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World demographic study: 48 leagues compared

The 89th CIES Football Observatory Monthly Report compares 48 leagues around the world according to the demographic characteristics of the players in the club’s first team squads: 31 top divisions of UEFA member associations, nine of CONMEBOL, six of AFC and two of CONCACAF.

It reveals major differences in the strategies followed by clubs according to their geographical area.

In terms of age, the average measured across the 31 top divisions of UEFA associations is almost one year lower than that recorded in the 17 non-European leagues: 26 years compared to 27.

With regard to the proportion of expatriates, the difference is almost 10%: 43.6% in Europe versus 23.8% elsewhere.

These findings reflect the greater propensity of European teams to rely on young players, whether having grown up domestically or imported from abroad.

While the South American and Asian leagues tend to be similar both in terms of age, with relatively few young players, and origin, with comparatively few expatriates, they differ greatly in terms of squad stability.

The proportion of players who have been with the club for less than a year is almost 10% higher in the nine South American leagues than in the six Asian championships analysed: 49.0% compared with 23.8%.

Also regarding stability, there are spatial specificities within Europe too, with fairly different levels emerging around a double polarity of West (more stability) – East (less) and North (more stability) – South (less).

These geographical differences also reflect economic disparities, with the most competitive clubs tending to have a more stable workforce than the others.

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About the CIES Football Observatory

The CIES Football Observatory is a research group created in 2005 within the Swiss-based Centre International d’Étude du Sport (CIES). It specialises in the statistical analysis of football, in particular in the areas of demographics, transfer values and performance.

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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.

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CIES – Centre International d’Étude du Sport

Avenue DuPeyrou 1, 2000 Neuchâtel
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Phone +41 32 718 39 00
Fax +41 32 718 39 01


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