Chess vs Football: Which is Harder to Pursue as a Career?

When it comes to pursuing a career in chess or football (soccer), both sports present unique challenges and require a high level of dedication and practice. But chess is harder to pursue as a career.

Here are some of the factors to consider both before trying to make a career out of them:


In terms of earning potential, professional football players typically earn significantly higher salaries than professional chess players.

The top football players in the world can earn millions of dollars each year from playing, endorsements, and other sources.

In contrast, top chess players’ earnings are much lower, and only a few players earn a significant income from the game.


Football offers a wider range of opportunities for players, with professional leagues and teams located worldwide, especially in Europe, particularly in the top 5 leagues – The English League, Spanish, German, Italian and French league – which provide the best opportunities.

Moreover, there are more opportunities for sponsorships, endorsements, and other forms of income available in football.

In contrast, chess players have fewer opportunities to make a living from the game. Although there are professional chess tournaments, the number of players who can earn a significant income from playing is limited.

In fact, an average player from an average club in Europe’s top 5 leagues earns a similar amount of money to that of the chess world champion.

However, there are exceptions. Some chess players like Hikaru Nakamura and Levy Rozman stream chess online, and they are some of the top-earning chess content creators, earning similarly to the former world champion, Magnus Carlsen.

Fame and Recognition

Football is a more popular and widely-watched sport than chess, which means that professional football players generally enjoy more fame and recognition.

Top football players are household names worldwide and often feature in advertisements, movies, and other media.

In contrast, while chess has a dedicated following, it is not as well-known outside of the chess community.

Therefore, chess players are less likely to achieve mainstream recognition and fame.

Training and Practice

Both chess and football require a significant amount of training and practice to excel.

Chess players must spend countless hours studying and analyzing games, practicing openings, and developing strategies.

Football players, on the other hand, must train their physical abilities, such as speed, agility, and endurance, as well as practice their technical skills such as ball control, passing, and shooting.


Both chess and football present unique challenges when pursuing them as a career.

While football offers higher earning potential, more opportunities, and greater fame and recognition, the level of competition is also much higher.

Some might say that kicking a ball should not be such a high paying job but they need to understand that kicking this air ball well is not everyone’s cup of tea.

On the other hand, chess may offer a more intellectually stimulating challenge, but the number of opportunities to make a living from the game is also limited.

At the end of the day, chess is a much harder career to pursue because it has low following and low money in it and players outside the top 50 are hardly making a living out of it.

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