Croatia is 8th Largest Exporter of Footballers in the World!

Croatia is 8th Largest Exporter of Footballers in the World!
Slobodan Kadic

May 10, 2022 - Croatia is the 8th largest exporter of footballers in the world!

Namely, 400 football players from Croatia play abroad in 135 professional leagues worldwide. According to those statistics, Croatia is the eighth largest exporter of footballers in the world, reports Slobodna Dalmacija

One of the few Croatian industries that are very competitive globally is football. Even though there are less than 4 million inhabitants, hardly any adequate infrastructure, stadiums, or pitches, coaches in the younger categories are often underpaid, and laws do not adequately support investments in sports, Croatia is a real football miracle - especially when you factor in it was the 2018 World Cup finalist. 

Croatia is at the top of the world in producing and exporting quality footballers and is the fifth largest European exporter. A recent study by CIES, the International Institute for Sports Studies in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, analyzed the 80 football federations with the most significant number of players abroad in 135 world leagues. The five years from 1 May 2017 to 1 May 2022 were analyzed. That last date was taken as a reference, while this research was done five years earlier for the first time. The study included 135 world professional leagues (83 from Europe, 20 from Asia, 18 from South America, 10 from North and Central America, and 4 from Africa), or 2198 clubs.

As expected, the most footballers playing outside, in these leagues, on May 1 this year were Brazilians (1219). It is no surprise that the current world champion France follows (978). The world’s third-largest exporter of footballers is also predictably Argentina (815). Brazilians and Argentines are the most famous representatives of South American football and have long been known as class players. It isn't easy to find a league in which they are not strongly represented. England (525) is on the list of a vast number of footballers who play in other leagues in the United Kingdom and Ireland, and Germany (441) has a significant number of players of Turkish origin who were born and live in Germany but play abroad, even in the homeland of their parents and ancestors. The highest percentage of foreign players from one country is Belgians in the Netherlands (29.6 percent).

On average, teams had 6.3 foreign footballers (22 percent). As far as Croatia is concerned, this is an increase of 25 percent compared to the identical analysis made five years earlier, on May 1, 2017, or an increase of 81 footballers. Five years ago, 319 football players from Croatia were in the mentioned leagues.

In addition to quality, Croatia has also shown incredible quantity, given that according to the latest census, it has only 3.88 million inhabitants. For comparison, the world's largest exporter of football players, Brazil, has 212 million inhabitants, France 65 million, Argentina 45 million, England 56 million, Germany 83 million, Colombia 50 million, and Spain 46 million. Behind Croatia are the great football nations such as the Netherlands, Portugal, and Belgium.

The favorite destination of Croatian footballers abroad is Slovenia, with 102 Croatian footballers. The next leading destination is the neighboring Bosnia and Herzegovina, with 49 players. 

Top 10 largest exporters of footballers in the world

1. Brazil 1219
2. France 978
3. Argentina 815
4. England 525
5. Germany 441
6. Colombia 425
7. Spain 409
8. Croatia 400
9. Serbia 379
10. The Netherlands 367

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