BusinessWeek: "The Soccer Fan's Argument for Immigration Reform"

by Joseph McKeown


We've already had one World Cup-related blog post (Manny discusses visas for athletes here), and as the matches continue to play on our office lobby television, it only seems fitting to have another--this one by economist Charles Kenny about the benefits of globalization as seen in the world of professional European soccer:

In a study of the increased globalization of soccer, Chrysovalantis Vasilakis of the University of Warwick found that relaxing rules on player migration confers significant benefits to those who move and to those who stay behind. In 1995, the European Court of Justice ruling made it far easier for players from outside the European Union to play for European soccer clubs, and for players already in the EU to move from one club to another...The European Court ruling led to a significant and swift increase in the proportion of the world’s talented players playing in Europe, Vasilakis found.

The study found that it was not only the European clubs who benefited, but also the home countries of the players who migrated to play in Europe in that there was an increase in both a higher number of talented soccer players produced in the region as well as the country's national team rankings and also improved international performances. The moral of the story, Mr. Kenny says, is that the "free flow of talent across borders confers substantial benefits all around." And: "More immediately, it suggests this year’s World Cup might be one of the most exciting to watch in the event’s history—reason enough to celebrate the globalization of the world’s most popular game."