The Paris Region, a breeding ground for the World Cup

Ile de France - World Cup in Qatar


The Ile de France is the breeding ground for the World Cup in Qatar. Indeed, the players of Ile-de-France training are present in force with notably 28 players and two coaches.


A total of twenty-eight players and two coaches are participating in the World Cup in Qatar. What they have in common is that they have all played and started playing soccer in the Ile de France region. The seven districts in the Ile-de-France region are all represented in this competition.

Of the 28 players, there are 11 Tricolores including the French genius of PSG Kylian Mbappé but also Tunisians, Cameroonians, Portuguese and even Qataris. Injuries accumulated over the past few weeks have brought the total down. Indeed, the French team could have counted on Paul Pogba (Roissy, Torcy), N’Golo Kanté (Suresnes), Presnel Kimpembe (Eragny), Mike Maignan (Villiers-le-Bel) or Christopher Nkunku (Fontainebleau).

Four years ago, players from the Ile-de-France were rather rare. There were only eight players in the entire competition. Comparing this figure with the mid-1980s shows that only defender Thierry Tussaud was from the Ile-de-France (Noisy-le-Grand) at that time. But how to explain this evolution? What has made the Ile de France the most important incubator of world soccer, ahead of the Brazilian agglomeration of Sao Paulo?


Approximately 18.5% of the French population lives in the Paris area, but this is not just a demographic issue. Indeed, the regional technical director Ali Moucer recently said: “We have the largest training activity in France. Last year, no less than 5,000 educators were trained in Ile-de-France. The Ile-de-France club welcomes many young people. In U9, U10 and U11, the young players must train 100% if they want to play in the first team of their category. From 9 to 14 years old, they are already competing in high intensity regional competitions”.

The Paris League has about 290,000 members over the last decade. Despite Covid, this represents an increase of approximately 20%. Also this year, a third of the young people in the training center are from the Paris region. Gilles Bibes, training director of the ACBB (Boulogne-Billancourt Athletic Club), recruited and trained four players for the World Cup in Qatar (Marcus Thuram, Georges-Kevin Nkoudou, Hannibal Mejbri and Jean-Pierre Nsamé). The technician therefore emphasizes the quality of training, but that’s not all. “We have successful coaches who are able to provide a higher quality of training than other clubs in the area,” he says.

“Here, the intensity of the performance is considerably higher. The U13 competitions in Île-de-France are more intense than in the provinces. You have to fight to win a starting place in your club. He continues: “There are also 3-4 trainings per week and specific sessions. Street soccer is essential to develop good players who are very comfortable technically. There is no choice but to play 7 against 7 on 30m2 so you progress very quickly”. We can also see that the proportion of people from Ile-de-France in the national team does not decrease. Indeed, if we refer to last year, a total of 97 men and 65 women from Ile de France have been called for the U16 to U23 categories of the French Team.