‘Feet-drain’: an opportunity for players and a loss for nations?

‘Feet-drain’: an opportunity for players and a loss for nations?

Thursday May 1st 2008: 9.30am – 4.45pm

Clore Management Building
School of Management and Organizational Psychology
Birkbeck, University of London, UK

The Birkbeck Sport Business Centre hosted a one-day conference on the phenomenon of ‘feet-drain’. Drawing a parallel with the term ‘brain-drain’ used to describe the emigration of skilled labour from one nation to another, the concept of ‘feet-drain’ has become increasingly relevant as globalisation and commercialisation in the sport industry have resulted in the migration of professional footballers, particularly towards Europe. The conference brought together, for the first time, leading academics working in the area of labour market migration and practitioners from within the football industry to discuss the concept of ‘feet-drain’.

Speakers included:

  • Professor Wladimir Andreff, Professor of Economics, University of Paris (PDF Presentation)
  • Dr Paul Darby, Senior Lecturer in Sport and Exercise, University of Ulster
  • Dr Richard Elliott, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, Southampton Solent University (PDF Presentation)
  • Jean-Marc Guillou, Founder, JMG Academy
  • Solar Luis, Youth Academy Director at Athletic Bilbao (PDF Presentation)
  • James MacDougall, European and International Officer, Central Council for Physical Recreation (PDF Presentation)
  • Dr Raffaele Poli, Researcher at the International Center for Sports Studies, University of Neuchatel (PDF Presentation)
  • Filippo Maria Ricci, Spanish correspondent for the Gazzetta dello Sport (PDF Presentation)
  • Gordon Taylor, Chief Executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association

The conference was designed to bring together academics and practitioners to discuss key issues surrounding labour market migration in the football industry. The conference addressed a number of key topics including:

  • What are the key labour market trends within the football industry?
  • What effect does ‘feet-drain’ have on the development and standards of football in developing nations?
  • What are the key challenges brought about by the establishment of football ‘academies’ in developing nations, particularly in Africa?
  • What measures are being taken by the football authorities and by governments in developing nations to avoid ‘football trafficking’ and the exploitation of players?
  • What has been the impact of the rise in number of foreign players in English football?
  • Has ‘feet-drain’ had an impact on the opportunities for young English players?

Conference Proceedings

The proceedings of the conference have been published in the Birkbeck Sport Business Centre Research Paper series.

Birkbeck Sport Business Centre Research Paper, Volume 2, Number 2, August 2009: Labour Market Migration in European Football: Key Issues and Challenges – Conference Proceedings from the Feet-Drain Conference hosted by the Birkbeck Sport Business Centre in May 2008

TV Coverage:

Globosat Brazil TV programme on “Feet Drain” conference (podcast link)

Images and interviews from the “Feet Drain” conference that feature in this programme were filmed and produced by:

Pedro Redig
Brazilian journalist/TV producer
MBA/Football Consultant

Originally shown in Brazil by Globosat SporTV channel.

We thank them for the courtesy of allowing us to run this programme on our website.

View all Events