Stathursday: One tenth of World Cup players passed through the Pro League
Every Thursday, we zoom in on some interesting statistics provided by our data partner StatsPerform in the 'Stathursday' section. This week, we focus on the 32 World Cup squad selections, in which the Pro League is very strongly represented. In eight years, the number of ambassadors has doubled.
In the coming weeks, every sports fan's attention will be drawn to the World Cup in Qatar (20 November - 18 December). The Pro League and its clubs will also follow the World Cup closely. Not only because we have a soft spot for the Red Devils, but also because a huge number of Pro League players are going to be showing their skills in Qatar.
The Belgian professional leagues are sending no less than 24 World Cup participants, seven more than in 2018 and twice as much as in 2014. Nineteen of them are from abroad, which is an absolute record for the Pro League. We have 4 more representatives at the Red Devils than at the World Cup in Russia.
With our 24 ambassadors, we are the sixth best represented European country. Only the Premier League & EFL (163 players), La Liga (86), Bundesliga 1 & 2 (81), Serie A & B (70) and Ligue 1 & 2 (58) send more players to Qatar. Turkey, Portugal and the Netherlands (19 players each), among others, remain behind us.
Our 24 Pro League envoys are spread across 11 national teams in Qatar, indicating that our leagues are internationally valued, but also that our club’s scouting reaches far beyond European borders. The fact that 10.2 per cent of the 832 World Cup players are active in or passed through our country further substantiates that statement.
Another statistic also highlights that the Pro League is pre-eminently the talent competition. With an average age of 26 years and 117 days, our 24 World Cup contenders are the youngest of all, younger than the French (26 years and 142 days), German (26 years and 159 days) and English envoys (26 years and 349 days).
Moroccan international Bilal El Khanouss, midfielder at league leader KRC Genk, is the youngest of the 24 Pro League representatives. At 18 years and 194 days, only four players have fewer days on the counter.
One more thing: it is also the first time since Opta - StatsPerform collects the data for our leagues that a player from the Challenger Pro League (the former second division) is among the World Cup selections. That first is for Liam Fraser, Canadian midfielder of KMSK Deinze.