#Scaling the pyramid

Developmental pathway to the FIFA World Cup: Part 2

FIFA, 01 Dec 2022


This section of the report reveals where the players turning out for their countries at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ currently play their club football. Hundreds of clubs will be represented in Qatar, but a closer inspection of the 32 squads highlights the influence of Europe's traditional footballing powerhouses.

Key Observations

  • The European leagues continue to be the dominant 'employer' of talent for the World Cup. Remarkably, the USA's Major League Soccer can be considered an emerging development league despite the strong competition in Europe. Its clubs employ 37 players representing as many as 12 teams at this World Cup.

  • Outside the Big Five leagues, Belgian and Turkish clubs employ a lot of players at this World Cup spread across a variety of different national teams (respectively 12 and 13 national teams). This could indicate that the clubs have had a positive impact on developing these players.

Breakdown of current clubs

The 830 players selected for the 2022 FIFA World Cup are employed by 295 different clubs. However, there are significant clusters of players from a small number of clubs. Of these clubs FC Barcelona provides more players than any other (17), while 15 other teams employ at least ten players appearing at the FIFA World Cup. Between them, the ten clubs providing most players for the tournament account for 16.5% of all the players at this World Cup. If we consider the top 20 clubs, this percentage rises to 28.0%, and the top 50 clubs supply 48.7% of players between them.

Location of current clubs

The map below plots the locations of the clubs where the players at FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 play their football, and is a perfect illustration of the way the top players are concentrated in Europe. Only four players representing UEFA member associations play outside of the European confederation. In contrast, only 17 of the 130 players selected by African teams (13.1%) play within CAF. The vast majority of players from South America (84 of 104, or 80.8%) play outside their home confederation (most of them in Europe), while a significant minority of those turning out for national sides from North and Central America (45.2%) and Asia (36.8%) also play outside of their home confederations.


The players at this World Cup are also concentrated in a very small number of domestic leagues. While the full list of clubs represented in Qatar features sides from 55 different leagues, the English Premier League alone accounts for 16.1% of all the players going to the World Cup (across 26 of the 32 squads), and clubs from the top five leagues (the European "Big Five" of England, Spain, Italy, France and Germany) employ 50.3% of all the players playing in Qatar.

Current clubs by confederation

The breakdown by confederation shows that 72.5% of the players (602 out of 830) selected for FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 play for clubs from UEFA member associations. The second biggest contingent of players comes from the AFC (114 players, 13.7% of the total), followed by CONCACAF (76, 9.2%), CONMEBOL (21, 2.5%) and CAF (17, 2.1%). Although 26 leagues outside of Europe are represented at the World Cup, 62.3% of players not playing their club football in Europe ply their trade in just five national championships: MLS in the United States, the Saudi Pro League, the Qatari Stars League, the Mexican Liga MX and Costa Rica's FDP.

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