FDA News Post

An intelligent footballer? You've got to be joking!

Posted 10 Apr 2012 10:00PM

A recent Swedish study has dispelled the worn out stereotype that professional footballers are unintelligent. This perception generally stems from the assumption that most footballers do not complete their academic studies, leaving school early to pursue their career in football. The media also play their part in supporting this perception by regularly publishing stories about Mario Balotelli’s latest escapades or Joey Barton’s latest rant on Twitter.

The study, conducted by scientists at Karolinska Institutet using players from Sweden’s first and second divisions tested the player’s executive functions such as creativity, response inhibition, and cognitive flexibility. The results show that footballers from both divisions recorded better results than the general population. Furthermore the results showed that players from the first division performed better than those in the second division. The results also showed that those players who performed best in the test tended to score more goals and provide more assists. The results of the study could be quite significant, as cognitive testing may be able to predict whether young players will go on to become top class footballers. You can be sure that some clubs will already be looking at implementing similar testing in order to unearth the next Messi or Ronaldo.

Hopefully this study will go some way towards changing this perception of footballers being dim-witted, and will allow more players to show their intelligence in the public eye. Footballers like Burnley’s Clarke Carlisle have gone a long way to dispelling this stereotype as well. Carlisle is the current chairman of the Professional Footballer’s Association and has appeared several times on the BBC’s ‘Question Time’, and also appeared on ‘Countdown’.

To see the full study, go to: http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0034731#s3

 To see Clarke Carlisle in action off the pitch, watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jh7macVIxeM

Now it’s finally proven that footballers are highly intelligent people. Well, most of them anyway!
written and posted by Ruairi Kelly