World Cup: 2002 roster breakdowns
Previously, I made a list of whom MLS has sent to the World Cup in 1998 & 2002. We all know that the top leagues in Europe send the most players to the World Cup, but just how many players came from each country? I remember seeing a breakdown for 2002 in a book a while ago, but I couldn't find it on the net. So like always when I can't find an answer for something I'm curious about, I did the research myself. Using FIFA's official site for Korea/Japan 2002, I made a spreadsheet of how many players came from each league for each team. There are a total of 736 players in the tournament (32*23), although the numbers below add up to 735. That's because one player, Ireland's Gary Breen, was listed as unattached. Not sure how up to date they were, but on the caps numbers it says accurate as of 5/27/02.
Below, you'll see three interesting sets of data. The first is a list includes all players. This isn't really a good indicator of the country's soccer strength though, because for example Saudi Arabia sent all 23 of its players from its domestic league. So the second list will show how many foreign players were sent from each country, which is the best indicator of league strength. Then, the third list will show how many domestic players each country used. The second and third lists together equal 735 (or the same as the first list).
45 different countries. That includes 25 from UEFA, 6 from CONMEBOL and AFC, 5 from CAF, and 3 from CONCACAF. For those of you who don't know, AFC = Asia and CAF = Africa. The big 5 took 47.3% of the players, and overall, 7 of 10 players came from European leagues. It wouldn't surprise me if that number increased this time around (even though there's 1 less European team involved). I'll wait until FIFA puts up their official rosters with clubs to do this year's breakdown.
Asia is second, surprisingly. Look at this nice continental breakdown:
This is where the strength of the league(s) shows. Only 31 of the 45 sent foreign players. None were from MLS last time. France has a large number of African players, which puts them at #2. Mexico (along with Japan) ranks highest outside of Europe, with players from Ecuador, Paraguay, and Uruguay.
This is where it gets ridiculous. Look at the percentage breakdown of the 359 foreign players:
Only 22 players did not play in their domestic league, and also did not play in a UEFA league. Also, once again, Asia is second in this category.
I include Cameroon and Ireland, who were the only 2 World Cup teams to send no players from their own leagues.
Overall, 51.1% of players came from the domestic leagues. Interestingly, Brazil had a majority of players who actually played in Brazil last time. Now, I just checked their 2006 roster and they only have a handful. Another neat thing to point out is that the two superpowers who didn't escape the group stage, Argentina and France, only had 7 of 44 players combined from domestic leagues. I don't think it has much of an impact though, because going through each group in 2002, I checked to see which two teams had the most domestic players and if they advanced. Exactly half did.
Percentage of domestic players by confederation:
Players Came From Most Leagues
The average team in 2002 had players who came from 5.6 different leagues, including 4 teams in the double digits. Incredibly, Nigeria's 23 players came from 14 different leagues. That has to be a record. Here's their breakdown: