The Premier League at the 2022 FIFA Men’s World Cup in Qatar
Competing at the FIFA World Cup is seen by most footballers as the absolute apex of the beautiful game. Drawing nations from all corners of the earth and players from some of the world’s biggest (and some of the most obscure) leagues, the tournament is the perfect platform for footballers from around the globe to showcase their talent.
Players from the English Premier League are highly accustomed to playing on one of the biggest stages, with over 1.3 billion viewers worldwide, the league is the most watched sporting league in the world.
Although the 2022 FIFA Men’s World Cup in Qatar has been encapsulated by a cloud of controversy since the offset, it has still provided fans with all the elements we have come to expect from the crowning jewel in the world’s most popular sport.
In this feature, we take a closer look at how the English Premier League is putting its mark on the tournament.
Strong representation at the FIFA Men’s World Cup
Despite FIFA increasing the number of players permitted to be selected for their national team at the FIFA World Cup to 26 (previously 23), most professional football players will never have the honour of representing their country at the infamous tournament.
Football Benchmark’s study, launched ahead of the 2022 FIFA Men’s World Cup in Qatar, took an in depth look at the players who were privileged enough to be selected to represent their country at the biggest footballing tournament in the world.
The study found that 831 players were selected, with over 50% of the players coming from Europe’s top five leagues: the Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A and Ligue 1.
The Premier League had the highest rate of any of the leagues, with 16% of the total players at the tournament.
Players at the 2022 FIFA Men's World Cup by league
Premier talent at a premium
As well as bringing together players from leagues from all corners of the globe, the FIFA World Cup is known for providing the perfect platform for superstars to display their abilities on the biggest stage.
Previous tournaments have seen the likes of Ronaldo ‘El Fenomeno’, Thomas Müller, Kylian Mbappé, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Pele and Diego Maradona, all introduce themselves as superstars to the world and boost their value on the player-transfer market.
The 2022 FIFA Men’s World Cup is no different, with plenty of young stars on show, but the Qatar-edition of the tournament sees a particular dominance from Premier League players, with six out of 10 of the most valuable players playing in England’s top division.
The Premier League also dominates the list of most valuable players to miss out on the tournament, with many of the league’s stars missing out due to injury or their countries missing out on qualification for the tournament.
Six out of the top 10 most valuable players to miss out are from the English first division, with Manchester City’s goal scoring machine Erling Haaland being the most notable absentee following Norway’s failure to qualify. Mohammed Salah, Luis Diaz, Jadon Sancho, Reece James and Diogo Jota also make Football Benchmark’s top 10 list for most valuable players to miss out.
Value - For league and country
Since its inception in 1992, the Premier League has steadily grown to become the world’s most watched and followed sporting league. Despite its meteoric rise, the league’s popularity and commercial value hasn’t always translated into a high performing national side.
The 2018 FIFA World Cup was the first time that the England Men’s team had reached a semi-final at a major competition since the 1996 UEFA European Championships and the first appearance past a quarter final stage at a FIFA Men’s World Cup since they lifted the trophy in 1966.
Since the Premier League introduced the Home Grown Player Rule in 2010, the league has looked to build the value of talent within England and Wales and foster an environment which boosts the performance of the respective national teams.
More than a decade later, the results of the initiative (alongside a series of other investments) can be seen as Football Benchmark’s study shows that England has the highest squad value out of all the teams at the 2022 FIFA Men’s World Cup, with current holders France in second place.
In addition, 25 out of the 26 selected players in England’s squad play their football in the Premier League, with Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund), being the only exception.
The FIFA Men’s World Cup may be taking centre stage for the remainder of 2022, but the world’s biggest football tournament is truly showing that the future of football, for players, managers, fans and brands, lies in the English Premier League.