All roads lead to Rome? Exploring birthplace effects and the ‘southern question’ in Italian soccer

Morganti, Gabriele and Kelly, Adam L. and Apollaro, Gennaro and Pantanella, Laura and Esposito, Mario and Grossi, Alberto and Ruscello, Bruno (2023) All roads lead to Rome? Exploring birthplace effects and the ‘southern question’ in Italian soccer. Soccer & Society. pp. 1-14. ISSN 1466-0970

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The expression “southern question” is used in reference to the poverty and economic underdevelopment, less advanced social relations, and clientelist style of politics that characterize South-Italy compared to North and Central Italy. This study aimed to investigate the presence of the “southern question” in Italian soccer. Accordingly, we examined the birthplace distribution of 2,012 Italian soccer players who have played in any national representative team (U15: n = 466; U16-U21: n = 1,939; Senior Team: n = 217). Chi-square analysis revealed an overrepresentation of players born in North and Central Italy, in all cohorts, compared to national norms (all P values < 0.0001). Odds ratios showed that players born in North and Central Italy had the greatest likelihood of representing Italy internationally at both youth and senior levels compared to players born in South Italy (ranging from 2 to 3.2). Factors that negatively impact upon South-Italy players’ soccer developmental journey have been proposed and discussed.

Item Type: Article
Identification Number:
1 June 2023Accepted
19 June 2023Published Online
Uncontrolled Keywords: Southern Question, Birthplace effects, Talent Selection, Birth advantages, Youth Soccer
Subjects: CAH03 - biological and sport sciences > CAH03-02 - sport and exercise sciences > CAH03-02-01 - sport and exercise sciences
Divisions: Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences > Centre for Life and Sport Sciences (C-LASS)
Depositing User: Gemma Tonks
Date Deposited: 11 Jul 2023 08:49
Last Modified: 11 Jul 2023 08:49

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