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SBD Global/March 22, 2013/International Football

Study Suggests Top European Football Clubs Have More Internationals, Older Players

The number of int'l footballers in Europe drops from 46% for Big Five clubs to 15% for fourth echelon leagues, according to a paper written by three CIES Football Observatory researchers. At the start of the current season, Man City had 24 int'l players, the highest figure in Europe. Man City is also the team employing the highest number of players with int'l caps in '12 at 19. These figures raise the issue of player hoarding and competitive balance in European football (Football Observatory).

THE STUDY: FOOTBALLPERSPECTIVES, which published the report, noted the profile of players in the first division of football "varies greatly from one country to another." The average age of a player is higher in the richest leagues and diminishes progressively going down the rankings. The squads of "the biggest champions have more experienced players." Conversely, young players "are less numerous" in the Big Five where only 16% of players are under 22 compared to 24% in the fourth economic level. The int'l recruitment of players was for many years" hampered by the quotas limiting the number of foreigners." The Bosman ruling decreed by the European Court of Justice in December '95 "changed the rules for clubs of European Community member countries or those having signed free movement of people agreements with the EU." Communitarian players were "effectively no longer bound by quotas." At the same time, numerous leagues "liberalised the presence of non-communitarian footballers." For the Big Five, the percentage of players imported from abroad increased from 19% to 43% between '95 and '12 (FOOTBALLPERSPECTIVES, 3/21).
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