It is the first time that an athlete has retained the title in the four years SportsPro has published the list, which ranks athletes from across the world according to their marketing potential over the next three years. Criteria included age, home market, charisma, willingness to be marketed and crossover appeal.
LeBron James and Usain Bolt have previously headed the list.
Barcelona star Lionel Messi was ranked second this year, with Northern Irish golfer Rory McIlroy taking third place. The full World’s 50 Most Marketable Athletes list, in association with Eurosport, is published in the June edition of SportsPro magazine.
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SportsPro editor-in-chief David Cushnan said: "We ranked Neymar as the most marketable athlete in the world last year and there was really no argument for demoting him this time round. He is poised to be the star of next year’s World Cup, in Brazil, and he still has a blockbuster move to a European club potentially ahead of him. His superstar status and obvious talent make him a magnet for brands in one of the world’s rising economies. He’s everything a brand would want in an endorser and all the signs are his career has not even peaked yet.
"This year’s list also recognises the huge potential for brands in women’s sport, with more female athletes than ever making our 50 and the WTA stars showing the way to their peers. There is also recognition of the huge growth potential in Paralympic sport, with Alan Oliveira poised to be the poster boy for Rio’s Games in three years’ time."
The World’s Ten Most Marketable Athletes 2013
1) Neymar – football, Brazil
2) Lionel Messi – football, Argentina
3) Rory McIlroy – golf, Northern Ireland
4) Robert Griffin III – American football, USA
5) Usain Bolt – athletics, Jamaica
6) Novak Djokovic – tennis, Serbia
7) Lewis Hamilton – motorsport, UK
8) Cristiano Ronaldo – football, Portugal
9) Sloane Stephens – tennis, USA
10) Blake Griffin – basketball, USA
Tiger Woods just missed out on a spot in the top-10, ranking 11th.
This year’s list features more women than ever before, 14, including five representatives from the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Tour – Sloane Stephens, Victoria Azarenka, Caroline Wozniacki, Maria Sharapova and Laura Robson.
The other women on the list are golfers Yani Tseng and Stacy Lewis, racing driver Danica Patrick, swimmer Missy Franklin, skier Lindsey Vonn, ice skater Kim Yu-Na, football player Alex Morgan, jockey Katie Walsh and cricketer/football player Ellyse Perry.
There are 19 new entries, including Vincent Kompany, Virat Kohli and David Rudisha. There are representatives from 23 countries, with 17 coming from the USA and seven from the United Kingdom.
The list features nine football players, including four from the Premier League – Kompany, Jack Wilshere, Shinji Kagawa and Gareth Bale.
There are eight representatives from tennis, six from motorsport, five golfers, four basketball players and two each from athletics, ice hockey and boxing. Cricket, American football, swimming, baseball, snowboarding/skateboarding, cycling, mixed martial arts, skiing, ice skating, racing and para-athletics are all represented by a single athlete.
Perry, who plays both cricket and football for the Australian national team, completes the 50.
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