Each dot in this visualization represents one player in the World Cup. Each national team in the tournament has 23 men on its roster. Each of them is a citizen of the country for whom he is playing.
Many World Cup players regularly compete in professional leagues outside their home countries — the majority in Europe, especially England, where fans get to enjoy watching these world-class players every season.
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Forty-four percent of players on World Cup rosters come from the top pro leagues in England, Spain, Germany and Italy — considered the best in the world. Not surprisingly, countries that draw most of their players from those leagues are viewed as top contenders.
One quarter come from the next highest-rated European leagues (Portugal, France, Russia and the Netherlands), plus five other leagues that are well-represented on World Cup rosters (Turkey, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and the U.S.’s Major League Soccer). Thirty-one percent come from 48 other leagues.
SOURCE: FIFA, individual leagues. Published June 12, 2014.