Presence of foreign footballers and its impact on attitudes to immigration

Ignacio Lago, Universitat Pompeu Fabra
Carlos Lagos Peñas, Universidad de Vigo
Adaptation: Juan Manuel Garcia Campos

Globalisation has affected Western societies drastically in recent decades. The increase in cross-border flows of goods, services, money, people, information and culture is a process that affects citizens in all ways. These transformations can also be observed in mass consumer culture and leisure. Within the latter, sport, and football in particular, is one of its expressions that arouses most interest globally. The study on which this article is based analyses how the presence of foreign players in European leagues might influence the behaviours and opinions of fans of football clubs with regard to immigration.
Key points
  • 1
       Football is the sport that attracts most attention, the widest following and the strongest emotional involvement on an international scale. In Spain, according to a survey conducted by the Centre for Sociological Research in 2014, nearly 70% of respondents stated that they were fans or supporters of a football club.
  • 2
       The presence of foreign footballers in European national leagues has increased substantially over the last three decades. The aim of the study on which this article is based is to clarify the relationship between the participation of immigrants in football and the attitudes, behaviours and opinions held by citizens who are football fans with regard to immigration.
  • 3
       The results of the study suggest that, within the population that supports a given football club, attitudes to the phenomenon of migration improve when foreign players contribute to the achievements of the club to which they belong.
When a supporter’s team is doing well and foreign players take a lead role in its performance, attitudes to immigration improve
When a supporter’s team is doing well and foreign players take a lead role in its performance, attitudes to immigration improve

Relationship between attitudes to immigration (measured on a scale from 0 to 10) and number of minutes played by foreigners in teams that won La Liga (left) and in those teams that reached a higher position than expected in budget terms (right) in the eight seasons analysed (from the 2001-2002 season to the 2015-2016 season).

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