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Does the Mobility of Football Players Influence the Success of the National Team?

Dirk G. Baur and Sibylle Lehmann


This paper is motivated by the observation that there is a large discrepancy among football nations regarding the number of football players that play in the national team and also in their home league. Two extreme examples are Argentina and Italy : Almost all members of the national team of Argentina play in a foreign football league and all national team players of Italy play in their home league. We focus on the question whether a country's success in international competitions significantly depends on the mobility of its football players. More specifically, we analyze whether a country's success is influenced (i) by the number of national team players that do not play in the home league and (ii) by the number of national team players from other countries that play in the home league. Our study is based on data of all 32 national football teams qualified for the FIFA World Cup in Germany 2006 including more than 700 players with a total estimated market value of almost four billion Euros. The main finding is that a country's success crucially depends on both imports and exports. This suggests that all countries that qualified for the World Cup gain from trade.

Keywords : Football, International Trade, Transfer market

JEL classification : F13, F16, L80

Last updated 28 August 2014 by IIIS (Email).