The Returns to Scarce Talent: Footedness and Player Remuneration in European Soccer

Publication date: 7 Aug 2012 | Publication type: Journal article/book/chapter | Theme: Employment & Social policy | NIESR Author(s): Bryson, A | External Author(s): Frick, B. and Simmons, R. | JEL Classification: L83 | Journal: Journal of Sports Economics No. 6 Vol. 14

We investigate the salary returns to a scarce talent, namely the ability to play football with both feet. The majority of footballers are predominantly right footed. Using two data sets, a cross-section of footballers in the five main European leagues and a panel of players in the German Bundesliga, we find robust evidence of a substantial salary premium for two-footed ability, even after controlling for available player performance measures. We assess how this premium varies across the salary distribution and by player position. We also find that players appropriate the rents accruing from their two-footedness. In contrast, teams are not able to capture these rents due to player free-agency.

Keyword tags: 
salary, two-footedness, wage premium, football

Research programmes