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Brazil tops list of players export across the world; France, Argentina and Serbia follow

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There are more Brazilian players playing outside their home country than any other nation. 

Data released by the CIES Football Observatory finds that in total, 12,051 expatriates originating from 174 national associations are currently present in the 2,120 clubs studied with Brazilians making the biggest number at 1,202. The French follow with 781, followed closely by Argentineans (753).

Interestingly enough, while France had just 86% players in Europe, Serbia in 4th position with 460 players abroad, and 91% of those playing in Europe. Serbian footballers are primarily present in neighbouring countries: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Greece, Hungary, Slovakia, etc. The first destinations outside of UEFA countries are in Asia: Hong Kong and Uzbekistan.

The French are significantly present in the Algerian top division, with the majority being footballers of Algerian origin who grew up in France and migrated to Algeria in hunt of a professional career. The United States is the second non-European destination (21 players). The United States has recently become a more popular destination with the rise of the MLS, especially for the English, notably with 50 English players in the MLS right now.

While globalisation in football was not an unknown phenomenon, from the last three or four decades, there has been a steady rise in the same. Also significant is the concentration of the export of players from three countries in particular: Brazil, France and Argentina, who make up 22.7% of the player exports across the globe.

At the same time, the study also shows that certain countries and their associations are currently lacking in providing the sort of infrastructure and development that can allow a player to be scouted and taken outside for better opportunities. The countries where football is not a sport of choice, funding and more interest needs to be given in building a football ecosystem that would eventually become self-sufficient and allow high-quality players to come and go.

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