“The world at their feet”: professional football and international labor migration

Jonathan Magee, John Sugden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

170 Citations (Scopus)


The global migration of footballers to and within the top professional leagues in Europe has greatly accelerated in the last decade. Commercial interests in this “football business” have also grown prodigiously and the English leagues, especially the Premier League, have experienced an associated and pronounced increase in foreign player migration. The Premier League, supported by intensive commercial investment, has placed England on the career map of some top global stars. The globalization of football and its labor migrants can only be considered as part of a multifaceted and multidirectional process. This paper provides a model for understanding the globalization of football and the movement of its labor, but also probes beneath this model, drawing on findings from interview-based interpretative research conducted with foreign professional players in England (n = 22). A typology based on player experiences is established, explaining some of the key experiential dimensions of sports labor migration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)421-437
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Sport and Social Issues
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2002
Externally publishedYes

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