Dataset Two Approaches to Counting Migrant Football Players at the World Cup, 1930-2018

  • Gijs Van Campenhout (Creator)



Although there is a common belief that more footballers are representing countries other than their native ones in recent World Cup editions, a historical overview on migrant footballers representing national teams is lacking. To fill this gap, a database consisting of 10,137 football players who participated in the FIFA World Cup (1930-2018) was created. In order to count the number of migrant footballers in national teams over time, we critically reflect on the term migrant and the commonly used foreign-born proxies in mainstream migration research. A foreign-born approach to migrants overlooks historical-geopolitical changes like the redrawing of international boundaries and colonial relationships, and tends to shy away from citizenship complexities, leading to an overestimation of the number of migrant footballers in a database. Therefore, we offer an alternative approach that through historical contextualization with an emphasis on citizenship, results in more accurate data on migrant footballers--contextual-nationality approach. By comparing outcomes, a foreign-born approach seems to indicate an increase in the volume of migrant footballers since the mid-1990s, while the contextual-nationality approach illustrates that the presence of migrant footballers is primarily a reflection of trends in international migration
Date made available2019

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