This new Monthly Report analyses the composition of teams participating in the five of the most developed women’s professional leagues worldwide: four European leagues (Germany, Sweden, France and England), as well as the National Women’s Soccer League in the United States. It reveals that the age of players increases, international mobility grows and the concentration of the best footballers within a limited number of clubs independently of their origin pursues its course.
The average age of players on the pitch has risen from 25.1 years of age in 2017 to 25.5 in 2019. The German Bundesliga is the only championship in which the average age on the pitch has fallen over the last three years. It is now the league fielding the youngest players among those covered by the study: 24.7 years of age (-0.8 since 2017). At the opposite end is the United States National Women’s Soccer League: 27.5 years of age (+1.3 years since 2017).
The percentage of minutes played by expatriates has increased for the third year running reaching a figure of 32.4% (+4.4% in comparison to 2017). The most notable increase was recorded in England (+7.5%), where more and more clubs invest in women’s football through reproducing the same mechanisms already observed in the men’s game. The total number of expatriates in the leagues covered increases year by year: from 300 in 2017, the figure reached 348 in 2018 and 379 in 2019.
Numerous teams play with a majority of footballers with international status. The percentage of minutes played by the latter reaches 99.0% at Bayern Munich and 98.8% at Arsenal. It is greater than 90% in three other teams: Wolfsburg, Manchester City, as well as at the multiple European champions Olympique Lyonnais (94.2%).
Though encouraging, the evolution noted shows the importance of reflecting on regulatory mechanisms to limit the negative effects due to market logics already observed in the men’s game such as, among others, the speculation on young players, the concentration of resources and competitive imbalance.