Posted by Jonah Gardner on June 13, 2018
After a long journey, we're thrilled to announce that FBref.com, our website dedicated to world football, is going live today!
That's the TL;DR version of this blog post. However, we want to take this opportunity to explain the process that brought us here, why we're launching now, and where we hope to take the site going forward.
In summer of 2013, when we first began seriously working on this project, the champions of the five largest European domestic leagues were Manchester City, Barcelona, PSG, Bayern Munich, and Juventus, the best players in the world were Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, and the US Mens National Team had not yet qualified for the World Cup. How times change. In the interim, our websites have undergone a complete overhaul and our team has doubled in size.
However, today does not represent the end of a project; rather, it's merely the start. Our goal is to create a site for world football that's as comprehensive and addictive as Baseball-Reference, and we're well-aware that FBref is not yet that site. However, the B-R that you use today is the result of 18 years of constant, daily improvement. Fortunately, we've learned a lot over that span and, in a much shorter amount of time, we've created similarly comprehensive websites covering basketball, American football, and hockey. With time and effort, we know that we'll get there with soccer as well. However, we're incredibly excited about how much progress we've already made, and we hope you'll enjoy getting the chance to finally see it in action.
FBref is launching with stats from the club leagues in six nations: England, Spain, Germany, France, Italy, and the USA. The coverage varies a bit by year and league. In England, we have first division stats back to the dawn of the Premier League in 1992-93; Spain, France, and Germany have first division stats back to 1999-00 and Italy stretches back to 1998-99. For those who aren't super familiar with European soccer, we've started with these countries because of their worldwide popularity and concentration of the very best players in the entire sport. If you're a follower of the global game, there's a good chance you support (or despise) at least one club in one of these five nations. If you're a casual fan, it's likely that the vast majority of players you've heard of are in one of these leagues. If you're a young player, these are probably the clubs you dream of playing for someday.
Since we're based in Philadelphia, it was a natural choice to make the USA our sixth country at launch. We have stats for MLS's entire 21-year history, stretching all the way back to when the league debuted in 1996 with teams like the Tampa Bay Mutiny and quirks like penalty shootouts in all tied matches and clocks that count down to 0:00. In addition to top league coverage, we also have more limited coverage of the lower leagues in all of these nations, meaning that you can track, for example, Bournemouth's journey from the brink of relegation out of league football to their current status at Premier League mainstays. Please Eddie! Play Emerson Hyndman.
Global football represents a new, much more ambitious challenge for us, and we've only begun scratching the surface of it. In addition to the clubs we currently cover, there's a host of other countries with their own domestic leagues, not to mention international competitions like the World Cup. In addition to the league stats you see on the site today, there are national and continental cup competitions. And, in addition to the men's game on the site right now, there's an entire universe of women's clubs. Our long-term vision for the site includes all of that, as well as transfers, individual results, future fixtures, a suite of analytical tools (Stathead nėe Play Index), and much more.
However, the only way to build that website is to start with this one. We're extremely proud of the work that's gone into getting us to this point, but we want to assure you that this is just the beginning. In the short term, we're planning on adding domestic leagues from more countries on a regular basis throughout the summer. We're also planning on having daily updates once the club season begins in Europe. We're also planning on translating the site into other languages; something we've never attempted before, but which is a necessity for dealing with a game that has the global reach of football. In the long term, as we find out more about how people use the site and what kind of information they're looking for, we'll be able to focus our efforts on building out the database and feature set. In the meantime, we'll provide easy links out to places like Wikipedia for data that our site doesn't provide.
We'll also be working to correct any errors that pop-up on the site. And, we're not going to lie to you, there are still ERRORS, probably some really hairy ones. We have over 500,000 rows of soccer data in our database and a small percentage of those have errors. Some players are listed on the wrong team, others may have two separate club stints combined into one, and still more may be accidentally mis-identified or paired with the wrong stats. We think we've weeded out all the eight and/or eighty -year-olds that we originally had playing in La Liga, but if one slipped through in the 3.Liga, or if you see anything else that seems out of sorts, please let us know.
Reflecting on all of this, we've decided that, for the first year, we're going to be presenting the site completely without advertising. We're here for the long haul and we're going to put in the work and hours that it will take to make FBref the site you expect and want it to be. We guarantee that we'll make the site better every day and fix every error we find so that, by the time the USMNT is victoriously hoisting the World Cup trophy in 2026, FBref.com will be as good or better than any site in the Sports Reference family.
Our sites wouldn't be what they are today without the support, feedback, and effort of our users; FBref will not be any different. As you use the site, we'd love to hear from you. If you spot a technical error, see inaccurate data that needs a correction, have an idea for something you'd like to see on the site, or want to register any other feedback, PLEASE TELL US!! Don't hesitate to reach out to us by e-mail or on social media platforms like Twitter or our sub-reddit. Additionally, if you'd like to stay up-to-date on the updates and be the first to hear about improvements and new features, sign up for our newsletter!
Lastly, we'd like to thank a few people, without whom the site wouldn't be possible: Aaron Nielsen for the bulk of our data; the SR crew: Jay, Doug, Mike, David, Hans, Mike, Adam, Jonah, Jaclyn, Jay, and Alex, and interns past and present Isaac, Michael, Anand, Sam, Charlotte, and Ricardo; Rebecca, Kyle, the two Robbies, and Arlo; some of our favorite soccer pods at the Double Pivot and Men in Blazers; and lastly Sergio Aguero for scoring THAT goal, which ignited a previously unrealized passion for football in Sean Forman, President of Sports Reference.
Thanks for bearing with us during the process of making this site a reality, for indulging us a bit with this long-ish post, and for continuing to support and use our sites. We're very excited to finally be able to share this project with you and we hope you like it as much as we do!