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Anthropometry of the Players at the World Cup - Comparing 2002, 2006 and 2018

Although not the most important attribute for success in football, the body size of players can still play significant a part in their performance. We have collected and analyzed the World Cup player data provided by FIFA for the years 2002, 2006 and 2018, which included the height, weight, position played and age of all squads of each nation represented. The players' BMI was calculated from the provided height and weight data.

Positional Differences

There are clear differences in the body size of players depending on the position played on the field. The World Cup goalkeepers stand out - they tend to be older, taller and heavier than the other players. The youngest are the forwards, the shortest the midfielders, and the leanest based on BMI are the midfielders.

From 2002 to 2018, the average height and weight of players at the World Cup has increased, while BMI has remained steady.

Age of FIFA World Cup players

AGE (years) 2002 2006 2018
OVERALL AVERAGE (all positions) 27.04 26.86 27.9
Goalkeeper 29.05 28.64 29.7
Defender 27.14 27.03 28.1
Midfielder 26.86 26.28 27.6
Forward 26.06 26.39 27.0

Height of FIFA World Cup players

Height (cm) 2002 2006 2018
OVERALL AVERAGE (all positions) 180.77 181.4 182.4
Goalkeeper 186.42 187.75 188.8
Defender 181.72 182 183.2
Midfielder 178.25 178.74 179.7
Forward 180.01 180.66 181.4

Weight of FIFA World Cup players

Weight (kg) 2002 2006 2018
OVERALL AVERAGE (all positions) 75.88 76.36 77.2
Goalkeeper 81.73 83.47 83.4
Defender 76.96 76.7 78.0
Midfielder 73.12 73.85 74.0
Forward 75.19 75.33 76.8

BMI of FIFA World Cup players

BMI 2002 2006 2018
OVERALL AVERAGE (all positions) 23.2 23.18 23.2
Goalkeeper 23.51 23.67 23.4
Defender 23.2 23.14 23.2
Midfielder 23.01 23.11 22.9
Forward 23.18 23.06 23.3



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