We recently learned a submission to the Journal of Economic Studies had been accepted and should appear in 2018. This research will be of interest to sports economics fans as it considers the impact that player-specific and regional differences have on the number of senior international appearances football players accumulate over their careers, for six UEFA member countries, from 1993 to 2014.
We employ a Poisson regression model to analyse this and find that both individual and regional variables can explain the number of caps a player receives over the course of their career.
Not surprisingly, 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. Thus it seems, investment rather than the jumpers for goalposts hypothesis, drives success in the modern game.
The distance a player is born from the capital has no effect, hence players are not a disadvantage if the are from more isolated regions in a country. That said, the number of youth academies in the player’s region of birth has a significant, positive effect.
Our 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 results can provide insights for local football authorities and policy makers concerned with regional characteristics and those interested in the development of elite talent.