The footballers who played the qualifiers for 31 teams leading to the World Cup, and 40 players of host team Russia, add up to a total of 1,032 players (the World Cup itself has 23 players per side). In the larger set of 1,032 players, 98 — or 1 in 11 — were born outside their countries they play for, according to a report by the CIES Football Observatory. An article on the FIFA website goes into details of the study which, besides the migrant composition of teams, also looks at aspects such as players’ age and height.
Morocco accounts for the highest proportion of migrant-origin players at 61.5% (3 in 5) and Senegal for 39.4% (2 in 5) of players born abroad. On the other hand, seven countries did not field any player born outside their borders — Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Germany, Colombia, Mexico and South Korea. “The accessibility of football to all levels of society is such that migrants often find it a favoured means for expression. At the request of African associations having significant diasporas, the FIFA have progressively allowed dual nationals to represent more easily a second country over the course of their career,” the FIFA article states. Africa’s regional football association — Confederation of African Football — has the highest proportion of players born abroad (28.7%) among all regional associations, followed by UEFA (Europe) at 9.1%.
Serbia has the tallest players at an average height of 185.6 cm, followed by Sweden and Iceland. The least tall players are in Saudi Arabia at an average 175.2 cm, followed by those in Japan and Peru. European players are generally taller. “On average, the height of players employed by qualified squads is 181.7 cm. This value is slightly lower than that observed in 31 European top division championships (182.1cm). Spain is the only European country among the seven nations having fielded players with an average height of less than 180cm. At the opposite end, the six nations with the tallest players are UEFA members. It is nevertheless important to make clear that there is no correlation between height and success,” the FIFA article states.
In terms of age, the youngest team is Nigeria (average age 24.9) and the eldest is Panama (29.4).
Tip for Reading List: How many lives can India vaccine save?
India’s ongoing immunisation programme with the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) could prevent approximately 35,000 under-five pneumonia deaths with its vaccination target of 27 million newborn babies, a new worldwide study has estimated. The disease claimed the lives of an estimated 105,000 children under the age of five in 2010. The study, published this week in BMJ Global Health, was carried out jointly by researchers at the University of Strathclyde and the US Center for Disease Dynamics Economics and Policy, and in India. It sought to assess the potential outcome and cost-effectiveness of the PCV programme. It found the vaccine is significantly more expensive than others included in the Universal Immunisation Programme. In addition, its effectiveness remains uncertain in low and middle-income countries (it has been rolled out in other countries too). The study concludes that the programme could prevent 34,800 under-five deaths in India, cost $240 million and save families $48.7 million in treatment costs annually. “We would recommend the Indian government includes PCV vaccination in the Universal Immunisation Programme, and the vaccine’s effectiveness should be continuously monitored as it is rolled out to provide more data to inform vaccination strategy,” the University of Strathclyde website quotes the lead researcher, Itamar Megiddo, as saying. The fully study is online at gh.bmj.com/content/bmjgh/3/3/e000636.full.pdf.