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News

Wed. 14 December 2016

Monthly Report: the international mobility of minors in football

Issue number 20 of the CIES Football Observatory Monthly Report investigates the international mobility of minors in football. It reveals that the number of players who left their country before to turn 18 has reached a new record high in 2016. English clubs are by far the most active in the international recruitment of minors.

Almost 600 footballers having moved abroad before the age of 18 currently play in 31 top division leagues of UEFA member associations. For almost one third of them, the first foreign destination was England. The second biggest importing country for minor players is Italy. In terms of origins, the most represented nations are Belgium, Sweden, France, Hungary and Austria.

As fully developed in the book "Slow foot" (only available in French), the Report indicates that “players having left their country under the age of 18 have, on average, less rewarding careers than footballers who left later with more experience under their belt”. The authors claim that “the premature international migration of inexperienced players poses serious risks for both the footballers concerned and the teams recruiting them”.

According to Drs. Raffaele Poli, Loïc Ravenel and Roger Besson, “unfortunately, in spite of all sporting logic, and in an overly speculative context where numerous actors make their living out of player transfers, the international flow of minors increases with each year”. Far from being solved, the issue of the transfers of minors in professional football will certainly still receive considerable attention in the years to come.

Read the Report here