#Research brief

Brazil talent map

Professor Israel Teoldo da Costa , 20 Apr 2023


In this Research Brief, Professor Israel Teoldo da Costa of Brazil's Centre of Research and Studies in Soccer considers how a player's date of birth and where they grew up can affect their chances of playing top-flight football in Brazil.

Professor Israel Teoldo da Costa and his team analysed birth data for more than 5,000 players, combining it with UN Human Development Index (HDI) statistics and Brazilian government figures to determine whether a player's date and place of birth had a significant impact on their chances of making it to the top flight. Their findings are striking, and suggest Brazilian clubs might be missing out on some real talent.

Key take-aways

  • The study suggests there is a correlation between a player's date and place of birth and how likely they are to make it to Brazil's Serie A.

  • Specifically, the size of the town/city where they were born and how well developed it is both seem to be significant factors.

  • These findings might encourage clubs to change their approach to developing young talent. For instance, if they provided better facilities in smaller towns, more players would be able to remain in familiar environments for longer.

Watch brief

Part 1: Background
Part 2: Findings
Part 3: Implications

Read summary

Part 1: Background
In the opening section of his presentation, Professor Teoldo da Costa explains that this study is a follow-up to research initially carried out in 2013. Both studies set out to examine whether there was a correlation between a player's age and place of birth (factors that cannot be controlled by individual clubs) and how likely they were to forge a career in Brazil's Serie A. This second study uses more data, collected over a longer period, than its predecessor did; the sample included 5,359 players across the full range of playing positions.

Part 2: Findings
Data from club websites and the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) showed that almost three-quarters of players in Serie A were born in just six of Brazil's 27 Federal States. Moreover, five of those six states exceed the average UN Human Development Index (HDI) score for Brazil as a whole, and this score appears to be another significant factor for talent development. The sizes of players' home towns also appear to play a role, with about 70% of players born either in the two great metropolises of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, or in smaller towns with populations below 400,000. As for the players' dates of birth, it was particularly notable that over 60% of players in Serie A were born in the first semester of the year (i.e., between January and June).

Part 3: Implications
Professor Teoldo da Costa concludes by highlighting the implications of these findings for developing talent in all sports, and particularly in football. They appear to show that accidents of birth can have a significant effect on player development. If we accept this hypothesis, we may be able to compensate for this effect. For instance, smaller cities in Brazil tend to produce more players per head than larger ones, but their smaller size means access to training facilities can be difficult. With this in mind, Brazilian clubs could consider investing in more specialist training facilities in smaller cities, which would allow more youngsters to train and develop in their home environments instead of moving to Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo to progress within the game.

Paper citation and link
Teoldo, I., Cardoso, F., 2021, 'Talent map: how demographic rate, human development index and birthdate can be decisive for the identification and development of soccer players in Brazil', Science and Medicine in Football, vol. 5, no. 4, pp. 293-300.

Read the full paper here.

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