Player migration report: Brazil chased by France

The CIES Football Observatory just disclosed a report analysing the presence of expatriate footballers in 145 leagues from 96 national associations worldwide.

With 1,287 players abroad, Brazil tops the rankings for exporting countries. However, while the number of Brazilians went down by 14 compared to 2020, that of the second most represented nation abroad, France, increased by 124 to reach a new record high of 946.

On the 1st of May 2021, despite the pandemic, the number of expatriates grew by almost 5% in comparison to the same date in 2020: from 13,025 to 13,664.

This increase in difficult circumstances confirms that the internationalisation of the footballers’ labour market is a well-established process.

Expatriates represent 21.3% of players surveyed: from 26.4% in the domestic leagues of UEFA member associations down to only 8.9% in those of the CONMEBOL.

Overall, more than a fifth of expatriate players originate from Brazil, France and Argentina (21.4%).

If we take the number of expatriates in comparison to the population resident in the country of origin, Iceland tops the rankings. There is one expatriate Icelandic footballer for every 5,584 inhabitants of the island.

Montenegro is second (one expatriate for every 6,759 inhabitants), ahead of Croatia (10,792), Uruguay (11,889) and Serbia (15,742).

Access the Report for free!

More exclusive data on the CIES Football Observatory’s Atlas of Migration.

About the CIES Football Observatory

The CIES Football Observatory is a research group within the International Centre for Sports Studies (CIES). Created in 2005 by Dr. Raffaele Poli and Dr. Loïc Ravenel, the CIES Football Observatory currently comprises a staff of four full-time permanent researchers who specialise in the statistical analysis of football. Click here for more information.

About the CIES

The International Centre for Sports Studies (CIES) is an independent study centre located in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. It was created in 1995 as a joint venture between the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the University of Neuchâtel, the City and State of Neuchatel. Click here for more information. Click here for more information.

CIES – Centre International d’Étude du Sport
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Email: football.observatory@cies.ch