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Expatriates on the rise, records for the top three

The 422nd edition of the CIES Football Observatory Weekly Post presents the ranking of the 100 associations with the highest number of expatriate players in 135 leagues worldwide.

With a record number of 1,289 expatriates, Brazil tops the list ahead of France (1,033) and Argentina (905).

Nigeria, Japan and the United States head the rankings for the other main confederations.

The Post also presents the number of expatriates by age group, with the French in first place for those aged 23 or under, Brazilians for those aged 23 to 26 and 27 to 30, and Argentinians for those aged over 30.

More detailed analyses including changes measured since 2017, with record increases for France and Colombia, are available in the 85th Monthly Report.

Expatriates are defined as footballers playing outside the association where they grew up, which they left following recruitment by a foreign club.

This definition makes it possible to isolate sports migration from ordinary one, thus highlighting the flows directly linked to the practice of football.

The Migration Atlas presents the main destinations for football migrants of all origins.

About the CIES Football Observatory

The CIES Football Observatory is a research group created in 2005 within the Swiss-based Centre International d’Étude du Sport (CIES). It specialises in the statistical analysis of football, in particular in the areas of demographics, transfer values and performance.

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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. 

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CIES – Centre International d’Étude du Sport

Avenue DuPeyrou 1, 2000 Neuchâtel
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Phone +41 32 718 39 00
Fax +41 32 718 39 01


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