Social Talent Scouting: A New Opportunity for the Identification of Football Players?


This paper investigates the diffusion of digital technologies within the football talent scouting process. A qualitative exploration based on open discussions and unstructured interviews with professionals involved in the football system (coaches, scouts, players’ agents, etc.) provides insights about how new technologies are used for recruiting athletes. The findings, which are mainly in the context of Italian football, indicate a cultural and generational gap in the use of new digital tools that creates a mismatch between young promising athletes (demand side) and “senior” team professionals (supply side).

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Abbott, A., Button, C., Pepping, G.J., & Collins, D. (2005). Unnatural selection: Talent identification and development in sport. Nonlinear Dynamics, Psychology and Life Sciences, 9(1), 61-88.

  • Anderson, C., & Sally, D. (2013). The numbers game: Why everything you know about football is wrong. NY: Penguin Books.

  • Arnould, E.J., & Price, L.L. (1993). River magic: Extraordinary experience and the extended service encounter. Journal of Consumer Research, 20, 24-45.

  • Azzalini, A., & Scarpa, B. (2004). Analisi dei dati e Data Mining/Data analysis and data mining/. Milano: Springer.

  • Barney, J. (1991). Firm resources and sustained competitive advantage. Journal of Management, 17(1), 99-120.

  • Baxter-Jones, A., Goldstein, H., & Helms, P. (1993). The development of aerobic power in young athletes. Journal of Applied Physiology, 75(3), 576-585.

  • Bing, L. (2012). Sentiment analysis and opinion mining. San Rafael, CA: Morgan & Claypool.

  • Brady, C., Bolchover, D., & Sturgess, B. (2008). Managing in the talent economy: The football model for business. California Management Review, 50(4), 1-20.

  • Collings, D.G., & Mellahi, K. (2009). Strategic talent management. Human Resource Management Review, 19, 304-313.

  • Consalvo, M., Mitgutsch, K., & Stein, A. (2013). Sports videogames. London, UK: Routledge.

  • Cova, B., & Cova, V. (2002). Tribal marketing: The tribalisation of society and its impact on the conduct of marketing. European Journal of Marketing, 36(5/6), 595-620.

  • Durand-Bush, N., & Salmela, J.H. (2001). The development of talent in sport. In R. Singer, H.A. Hausenblas, & C.M. Janelle (Eds.), Handbook of sport psychology. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

  • FB Player (n.d.). Retrieved from

  • FIFA (n.d.). Retrieved from

  • Gladden, J., & Funk, D. (2001). Understanding brand loyalty in professional sport: Examining the link between brand association and brand loyalty. Journal of Sport Management, 3(1), 15-32.

  • Grant, R. (1991). The resource-based theory of competitive advantage: Implication for strategy formulation. California Management Review, 33, 114-135.

  • Grant, R. (2002). Contemporary strategy analysis: Concepts, techniques, applications (4th edition). UK: Blackwell Publishers.

  • Hastie, T., Tibshirani, R., & Friedman, J.H. (2001). The elements of statistical learning: Data mining, inference, and prediction. New York: Springer.

  • Hsie, H., & Shannon, S. (2005). Three approaches to qualitative content analysis. Qualitative Health Research, 15(9), 1277-1288.

  • Kondracki, N., & Wellman, N. (2002). Content analysis: Review of methods and their applications in nutrition education. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behaviour, 34(4), 224-230.

  • Lewis, M. (2003). Moneyball: The art of winning an unfair game. NY: Norton.

  • Lewis, R.E., & Heckman, R.J. (2006). Talent management: A critical review. Human Resource Management Review, 16, 139-154.

  • Mahony, D.F., Madrigal, R., & Howard, D.R. (1999). The effect of individual levels of self-monitoring on loyalty to professional football teams. International Journal of Sports Marketing and Sponsorship, 1(2), 146-167.

  • Malina, R.M. (1994). Physical growth and biological maturation of young athletes. Exercise Sport Science Review, 22, 389-433.

  • Malina, R.M., Ribeiro, B., & Aroso, J. (2007). Characteristics of youth soccer players aged 13-15 years classified by skill level. International Journal of Sport Medicine, 41(5), 290-305.

  • Mayring, P. (2000). Qualitative content analysis. Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 1(2), 2385-2401.

  • Michaels, E., Handfield-Jones, H., & Axelrod, B. (2001). The war for talent. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

  • Minerva, L. (1982). Lo sport/Sport/. Roma: Editori Riuniti.

  • MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference (n.d). Retrieved from

  • Pegoraro, A. (2010). Look who’s talking - Athletes on Twitter: A case study. International Journal of Sport Communication, 3(4), 501-514.

  • Penrose, E.T. (1959). The theory of the growth of the firm. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Peteraf, M.A. (1993). The cornerstones of the competitive advantage: A resource-based view. Strategic Management Journal, 14(3), 179-191.

  • R-project (n.d). Retrieved from

  • Sanderson, J. (2013). From loving the hero to despising the villain: Sport fans, Facebook and social identity threats. Mass Communication and Society, 16, 487-509.

  • Santomier, J., & Shuart, J. (2008). Sport new media. International Journal of Sport Management and Marketing, 4(1), 85-101.

  • Schumaker, R.P., Solieman, O.K., & Chen, H. (2010). Sports knowledge management and data mining. Annual Review of Information Science and Technology, 44(1), 115-157.

  • Smart, B.D. (1999). Topgrading: How leading companies win by hiring, coaching, and keeping the best people. Paramus, NJ: Prentice Hall Press.

  • Smilansky, J. (2006). Developing executive talent: Best practices from global leaders. Chichester: John Wiley.

  • Stavros, C., Meng, M.D., Westberg, K., & Farrelly, F. (2013). Understanding fan motivation for interacting on social media. Sport Management Review, 17(4), 455-469. Retrieved from

  • Taylor, T., Doherty, A., & McGraw, P. (2008). Managing people in sport organizations: A strategic human resources management perspective. London, UK: Routledge.

  • Trotter, J. (2012, 30 January). Facebook, Twitter taking over. ESPN. Retrieved November 13, 2014, from

  • Vaeyens, R., Lenoir, M., Williams, A.M., & Philippaerts, R. (2008). Talent identification and development programmes in sport: Current models and future directions. Sport Medicine, 39(8), 703-714.

  • Vallerand, R.J., Rousseau, F.L., Grouzet, F.M.E., Dumais, A., Grenier, S., & Blanchard, C.B. (2006). Passion in sport: A look at determinants and affective experiences. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 23(12), 454-478.

  • Van Rossum, J.H.A., & Gagnè, F. (2005). Talent development in sports. In F.A. Dixon, & S.M. Moon (Eds.), The handbook of secondary gifted education, (pp. 281-316). Waco, TX: Prufrock Press.

  • Wallace, L., Wilson, J., & Miloch, K. (2011). Sporting Facebook: A content analysis of NCAA organizational sport pages and Big 12 conference athletic department pages. International Journal of Sport Communication, 4(4), 422-444.

  • Waters, R.D., Burke, K.A., Jackson, Z.J., & Buning, J.D. (2011). Using stewardship to cultivate fandom online: Comparing how National Football League teams use their websites and Facebook to engage their fans. International Journal of Sport Communication, 4(2), 163-177.

  • Weinburg, T. (2009). The new community rules: Marketing on the social web. New York, NY: O’Reilly.

  • Wernerfelt, B. (1984). A resource-based view of the firm. Strategic Management Journal, 5(2), 171-180.

  • Williams, A.M., & Reilly, T. (2000). Talent identification and development of talent. Journal of Sport Science, 18(9), 657-667.

  • Wyscout (n.d.). Retrieved from

  • Yancey, A.K. (1998). Building positive self-image in adolescents in foster care: The use of role models in an interactive group approach. Adolescence, 33(3), 253-267.

  • Zagnoli, P., & Radicchi, E. (2011). Sport Marketing e Nuovi Media. Milano: Franco Angeli.


Journal + Issues