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Title: The Soccer Network: Global Soccer as a High-Skilled Labor Market
Authors: Berger, Samuel
Advisors: Fernàndez-Kelly, Patricia
Department: Woodrow Wilson School
Class Year: 2016
Abstract: Soccer has become globalized over the latter half of the 20th Century. In 2010, about half of all players in the Big Five leagues – the most prominent soccer leagues in the world – were international. That is, these players originated in a country outside of the league’s location. This globalization has occurred under an umbrella structure of governance by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) – soccer’s global governing body – and the national immigration laws of individual countries. Such a system structure and process has created immigration patterns: a tendency to move to one of the Big Five Leagues and to move to a location based on glocality (cultural and linguistic similarities and connections between countries). Soccer players represent a specific type of high-skilled labor – one that overlaps significantly with the art and entertainment industry – performing for both the success of the club by contributing in the club revenues and the audiences that watch the team play. A more traditional type of high-skilled labor, information technology (IT) labor, also represents a globalized labor market. This thesis compares both markets and makes three hypotheses. First, the social aspects of the soccer player market are not considerable enough to differentiate it from other normative labor markets such as IT. Second, the market overlaps with the IT market in structure and operations, and such overlap is enough to classify a soccer club as a business. Three, the global IT market represents a normative high-skilled global market labor to which the soccer player market can be compared and national governments can model their immigration policies towards the market. Important similarities and differences are revealed in this comparison. Both markets have resulted in particular immigration patterns. In the IT labor market, a prominent connection has emerged between high-skilled students and professionals in India and IT companies in Silicon Valley in the United States, similar to the attraction of talented soccer players to Europe to play in one of the Big Five Leagues. But yet, the soccer player market exhibits a particular social aspect that the IT labor does not due to its overlap with the arts and entertainment industry. Also, soccer players, due to their perceived higher status and the oversight of FIFA, experience a higher level of freedom in immigration. Nations often classify soccer players as immigrants of a special talent, different than that of other types of high-skilled labor. Other forms of high-skilled labor are subject to strict quotas that limit free movement. Certain lessons, though, can be learned from the structure and process of both markets. The conclusion from the comparison is that both markets would benefit from more flexibility in national immigration policies as well as more specificity in immigration classification.
Extent: 93 pages
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en_US
Appears in Collections:Woodrow Wilson School, 1929-2017

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