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Understanding Large Temporal Networks and Spatial Networks: Exploration, Pattern Searching, Visualization and Network Evolution by Natasa Kejzar, Anuska Ferligoj, Vladimir Batagelj, Patrick Doreian

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7Football as the World's Game

Football (soccer1) is now a global phenomenon as a sport played by over 250 million players in more than 200 countries with football leagues administered by national football associations (McGovern 2002). Countries have national teams playing international matches against each other. Football players (footballers2) have long moved over the globe to play ‘the beautiful game'. In doing so, they move from club to club and between countries. Player movements generate the club-to-club and country-to-country networks we study to describe the organizational structures of football, the processes generating and changing these structures, plus some resulting outcomes. The organized system of world football, for all of the football clubs and footballers, is vast. There is no complete database with data on all players and all clubs through time. In response to this, we defined and assembled a more manageable database comprising all clubs that played in the English Premier League (EPL) together with all players on the first team squads of those clubs for the first 15 seasons since this league was formed for the 1992/3 season. This database and its construction are described in Appendix A.4. We characterize each player as having a career trajectory made up of an alternating sequence of stays and moves.3 The stays are at clubs, with varying lengths of time, with the moves between clubs distributed over time. The rationale for using these data is provided in this ...

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