Faculté des lettres et sciences humaines

Africans' Status in the European Football Players' Labour Market

Poli, Raffaele

In: Soccer & Society, 2006, vol. 7, no. 2-3, p. 278-291

This essay makes a dual attempt to understand the manner in which the European football players' labour market is structured as well as the status held by players recruited from Africa. Firstly, it outlines the major changes since the implementation of the Bosman law in 1995, which led to an explosion in salaries paid to the footballers playing in well-off clubs of major leagues. This huge growth... More

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    Summary
    This essay makes a dual attempt to understand the manner in which the European football players' labour market is structured as well as the status held by players recruited from Africa. Firstly, it outlines the major changes since the implementation of the Bosman law in 1995, which led to an explosion in salaries paid to the footballers playing in well-off clubs of major leagues. This huge growth in stars' revenues reflects the emergence of an ever-increasing economic gulf separating clubs of the G-14 organization, a lobby which groups together 18 clubs among the richest in Europe, from the rest of the European clubs. The essay then goes on to examine the viability of Jean-François Bourg's theory of the existence of a 'segmented' labour market in European professional football. The latter part of the essay concentrates on African players' status through a statistical analysis of their presence in 78 professional and semi-professional leagues of UEFA member countries, which reveals that, in comparison with migrants of other origins, Africans are more concentrated in the lower levels of competition. Indeed, in the context of an economic polarization and of a 'segmented' labour market which needs a constant renewal and circulation of players, African footballers are particularly sought after, not only because of their value as footballers, but also because they allow the clubs' recruiters to make substantial financial savings through a form of wage dumping.