Relative age effect in elite soccer: more early-born players, but no better valued, and no paragon clubs or countries

Published on Feb 8, 2018in PLOS ONE2.74
· DOI :10.1371/JOURNAL.PONE.0192209
John R. Doyle26
Estimated H-index: 26
(Cardiff University),
Paul Andrew Bottomley24
Estimated H-index: 24
(Cardiff University)
The paper analyses two datasets of elite soccer players (top 1000 professionals and UEFA Under-19 Youth League). In both, we find a Relative Age Effect (RAE) for frequency, but not for value. That is, while there are more players born at the start of the competition year, their transfer values are no higher, nor are they given more game time. We use Poisson regression to derive a transparent index of the discrimination present in RAE. Also, because Poisson is valid for small frequency counts, it supports analysis at the disaggregated levels of country and club. From this, we conclude there are no paragon clubs or countries immune to RAE; that is clubs and countries do not differ systematically in the RAE they experience; also, that Poisson regression is a powerful and flexible method of analysing RAE data.
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