Relative Age Effect in Spanish Football: the 2013/14 Season

Grouping people by chronological age reveals developmental differences between them. Such differences of up to twelve months are known as 'relative age'and its consequences constitute what is termed the 'relative age effect'(RAE). Nowadays, studies on football point to the possible selection of talented players influenced by this phenomenon that is detrimental to players born in the last months of the year. The objective of this paper is to study the presence of the 'relative age effect'in the Spanish Football Premier League during the 2013/14 season. The analysis includes all Premier League players in the 2013/14 season (20 teams, 474 players). Frequencies were established by quarters and semesters, and the chi-square test was used to verify the homogeneity of the distribution. Results confirmed a greater representation of players born in the first half of the year, indicating statistically significant values (p< 0.001). Similar results were found when looking at nationality and position in the field, whereas the variable related to specific teams where players belong did not show these values (p> 0.05). Conclusions confirm a slight increase of this RAE phenomenon in the 2013/2014 season. Therefore, a review of selection procedures of players is required in order to balance the probabilities of success for those who are born later in the year.

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