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Men Are from Quartile One, Women Are from? Relative Age Effect in European Soccer and the Influence of Age, Success, and Playing Status

Andrew, Matthew; Finnegan, Laura; Datson, Naomi; Dugdale, James H.


Matthew Andrew

Laura Finnegan

Naomi Datson


The relative age effect (RAE) is characterised by an overrepresentation of athletes born earlier in the selection year. Whilst an RAE is consistently evident in male soccer, examinations in female players remain limited. The aim of the present study was to examine the influence of sex, as well as age, success, and playing status in European soccer players. The sample consisted of a total of 6546 soccer players from 55 soccer nations that competed in recent European Championship qualification campaigns. Results indicated an evident RAE in male [p = 0.017] but not female [p = 0.765] players. Male players were over-represented by players born in the first quartile for the U17 [p < 0.001] and U19 [p = 0.001] levels, however, this over-representation did not transfer to senior levels. No RAE was observed at any level for female players. Inside each age group, a slight selection bias towards those born in the first quartile for successful squads was observed but did not significantly differentiate between qualification status for either male or female players. Results from this study highlight the disparity in RAE prevalence between male and female players and raise further questions regarding the value of selecting relatively older players to metrics of success, transition, and selection for senior international soccer.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 10, 2022
Online Publication Date Nov 14, 2022
Publication Date Nov 14, 2022
Deposit Date Nov 17, 2022
Publicly Available Date Nov 17, 2022
Journal Children
Publisher MDPI
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 9
Issue 11
Article Number 1747
Keywords talent; identification; development; selection; football
Public URL


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