WHICH PROFESSIONAL SOCCER LEAGUES WERE BEST REPRESENTED IN THE 2014 WORLD CUP?


This information visualization highlights the most prominent soccer leagues by share of players in the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

In the World Cup, certain countries - such as Brazil, Germany, Argentina, Spain, and Italy - come to mind as being particularly successful.

But when the World Cup is not happening, where are these country's players spending their professional careers? For example, are Brazilian national team players staying and playing professionally in Brazil, or are they playing abroad, in other domestic leagues?

The below D3 chord diagram shows that the majority of the World Cup soccer players came from just four professional soccer leagues:

England (111), Germany (76), Italy (70), and Spain (60).

As the below diagram shows, these four countries have the longest arcs. The remaining World Cup players were spread out among various leagues.

(...more information below chart)

Interestingly, the above diagram shows that USA soccer league (i.e., MLS) is better represented than the Brazilian *and* the Argentine soccer leagues combined: 22 World Cup players play in the USA soccer league, while only 14 World cup players play in the Brazilian and Argentine soccer leagues.

Why is this the case?
Well, most of Argentina’s player’s play professionally in Europe. In fact, only 3 out of all the 613 World Cup players played in Argentina’s professional soccer league. The same is true of Brazil’s players – most play professional in Europe and only 11 players out of all 613 World Cup players played professionally in the Brazilian soccer league.

Another chord representation - using the same data - is shown below.


A Slightly Different Chord Representation:


In the below diagram, the arc length represents the number of players on a country's World Cup team. Because most teams had the same amount of players (~20), the arcs tend to be of similar length.

England was the only country in which all of that country's World Cup players played in their home country's professional league (i.e., all 22 of England's World Cup players played professionally in England's Premier League).

*The above two chord diagrams are based off Mike Bostock's example here: http://projects.delimited.io/experiments/chord-diagrams/hair.html