The history, geography and regulation of African football migration
in African football migration
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This chapter examines how Africa has become integrated into the global football marketplace for players. More specifically, in setting out how and why the continent, but particularly West Africa, has become a key exporter of football labour, the chapter unpacks the history, geography and changing regulatory features of this process. It examines the spatial dynamics of transnational African football migration using theoretical insights from the global production network literature, specifically the territorial distribution of products or commodities and the institutional and regulatory environment that shapes how production and export proceeds. The geographical dimensions of transnational African football migration are shown to reveal a historical clustering around a small number of core talent production centres in West Africa and key export markets in Europe. Long-standing transnational ties often, but not exclusively, rooted in colonial history are found to be key and have a significant influence on the geography of player mobilities. However, the early decades of the twenty-first century have witnessed a dramatic increase in the volume of African players plying their trade abroad, alongside a more diffuse spatial distribution across the European football industry and to emerging professional leagues in South and South-East Asia and the Middle East. These more recent, diversified paths are argued to be influenced by players’ willingness to look beyond traditional markets to earn a living from their footballing talent.

African football migration

Aspirations, experiences and trajectories


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