Born in December and striving for a career in sports? Bad luck for you.

April 11, 2014 (updated on February 5, 2017)

A few weeks ago, one of our sports editors, Florian Raz, approached me with an interesting story. Apparently, birth months of professional football players are distributed unevenly over the year, with significantly more being born early in the year and less in the last quarter.

The reason for this: Junior squads, even though named after players’ age – under 15, under 17, etc. – are defined by year. Thus, a player born in December has to compete for a place in the squad against players up to 12 months older than him – quite a disadvantage at a young age. This early selection leads to an uneven distribution among those who make it.

While this has been investigated before, notably by the German Football Association in order to find ways to counter the phenomenon, we thought we could take it one step further, investigate it at a larger scale.

There’s a database called transfermarkt.de with records of more than 240’000 football players, active and retired ones, most of them complete with birth date. We scraped the data, analysed it and came up with a comprehensive view of the phenomenon for football players worldwide. The thesis is confirmed and what’s more: The distribution has become more uneven for the latest generation of football hopefuls.

Read the full story at tageswoche.ch (in German)

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