Explaining international footballer selection through Poisson modelling

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Butler, David
Butler, Robert
Doran, Justin
O'Connor, Sean
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Purpose – Growing evidence suggests regional economic factors impact on individual outcomes, such as life expectancy and well-being. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the impact that player-specific and regional differences have on the number of senior international appearances football players accumulate over the course of their careers, for six UEFA member countries, from 1993 to 2014. Design/methodology/approach – The research employs a Poisson regression model to analyse the impact of individual and regional factors on the number of senior international caps a footballer receives over the course of their career. Findings – The results indicate that both individual and regional variables can explain the number of caps a player receives over the course of their career. The authors find that an individual’s career length positively influences the number of international caps accrued. Players born in wealthier and more populous regions accumulate a greater number of international appearances. Distance from the capital has no effect, however, the number of youth academies in the player’s region of birth has a significant positive effect. Research limitations/implications – The analysis is limited to regional variations within economically developed states. It would be interesting to test whether the correlation between relative regional development and international success exists in less developed countries. The authors only address mens international football in this study and cannot comment on the generality of the findings across genders or sports. Practical implications – The results can provide insights for local football authorities and policy makers concerned with regional characteristics and those interested in the development of elite talent.
Regional development , Association football , Poisson modelling
David, B., Robert, B., Justin, D. and Sean, O. C. (2018) 'Explaining international footballer selection through Poisson modelling', Journal of Economic Studies, 45(2), pp. 296-306. doi: 10.1108/JES-10-2016-0194
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