Has the World Cup become more migratory? A comparative history of foreign-born players in national football teams, c. 1930-2018. (accepted for publication)

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Abstract

While the presence of foreign-born footballers in national teams has a long history, it is often believed that the World Cup has become more migratory over time. The presumed increases in the volume and diversity of foreign-born footballers have, however, remained empirically untested. In this article, we empirically test whether the presence of foreign-born footballers at the World Cup has changed over time in respect to these two dimensions of migration. We conducted an analysis on 4.761 footballers, derived from the fifteen national teams that competed in at least ten editions of the World Cup between 1930 and 2018, which comprises of 301 foreign-born football players. We argue that countries’ different histories of migration, in combination with historically used citizenship regimes, largely influence the migratory dimensions of their representative football teams. Our outcomes show that the (absolute) volume of foreign-born footballers in World Cups is indeed increasing over time. Moreover, foreign-born footballers seem to come from an increasingly diverse range of countries. We, therefore, conclude that the World Cup has become more migratory in terms of volume and diversity from an immigration perspective.
Original languageEnglish
JournalComparative Migration Studies
Volume7
Issue number22
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 19 May 2019

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