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Relative age effect: a global constant

Age categories in youth football are generally defined from January 1st onwards.

Issue number 345 of the CIES Football Observatory Weekly Post analyses the month of birth of 43,938 players fielded in 2021 in 119 leagues worldwide.

The study confirms the relative age effect, i.e. the advantage to be born early in the year to make a career.

In total, 31.2% of players in the sample are born in the first trimester of the year.

In contrast, only 19.0% are born in the last trimester.

Without relative age effect, these proportions should have been around 25%.

Per national origin, the stronger concentration of footballers born in the first trimester was measured for the Chinese (43.6%).

An over-representation was recorded for 64 of the 67 origins with at least 200 representatives in the sample.

The very low proportion of Japanese born in the first trimester (16.2%) is also the result of a relative age effect. Indeed, in Japan, youth categories start on April 1st.

In England, players born in the first trimester are just slightly over-represented (27.1%) insofar as the reference date to define age categories is September 1st.

About the CIES Football Observatory

The CIES Football Observatory is a research group within the International Centre for Sports Studies (CIES). Created in 2005 by Dr. Raffaele Poli and Dr. Loïc Ravenel, the CIES Football Observatory currently comprises a staff of four full-time permanent researchers who specialise in the statistical analysis of football. Click here for more information.

About the CIES

The International Centre for Sports Studies (CIES) is an independent study centre located in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. It was created in 1995 as a joint venture between the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the University of Neuchâtel, the City and State of Neuchatel. Click here for more information. Click here for more information.

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Prof. Guglielmo Maisto
Maisto e Associati, Milano

Dr. Dick Molenaar
All Arts Tax Advisors, Rotterdam

 

Mr. Kevin Offer
Hardwick & Morris LLP, London

Mr. Mario Tenore
Pirola Pennuto Zei & Associati, Milano

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