MagazineWorld Cup 2018

See Which World Cup Teams Have the Most Foreign-Born Players

During qualification for the World Cup, many teams featured foreign-born players. Here are the connections between the national teams.

This story appears in the July 2018 issue of National Geographic magazine.

The 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia will feature 32 soccer teams from around the world. But just because a team represents a country doesn’t mean all its players were born there. Family heritage and dual citizenship are factors that players consider when choosing which country to represent. Of the 32 teams, 25 of them fielded at least one foreign-­

born player during qualification for the world’s most watched single-sport tournament.

2018 WORLD CUP NATIONAL TEAMS

National team with no foreign-born players (7 total)

National team with foreign-born players (25 total)

European

African

Asian and

Australia

South

American

North

American*

Counts of foreign-born players Taken From official matches played during qualification period.

In the lead-up to the 2018 World Cup, 209 teams from six regional confederations vied to qualify.

CONCACAF

UEFA

North America*

Europe

AFC

Asia and

Australia

CAF

Africa

CONMEBOL

South America

OFC

Oceania

*Includes Central America

and the Caribbean

In total, 97 foreign-born players competed for the 32 countries (shown here) that qualified for the 2018 World Cup.

Foreign-born player’s connection from

birthplace to World Cup team

France

Europe

Asia and

Australia

Africa

South

America

North America

Arrow width shows number of players; those with more than one player are labeled. Not shown: 35 foreign-born players who were born in countries that didn’t qualify

FRENCH CONNECTION

Thirty-five French-born players competed for other countries, such as Senegal, Tunisia, and Morocco—a legacy of French colonialism in Africa and waves

of immigration.

1 player born in Senegal

but played for France

France

13

Morocco

12

Senegal

7

Tunisia

2

Portugal

1

Argentina

Counts of foreign-born players Taken From official matches played during qualification period.

RILEY D. CHAMPINE, NGM STAFF

RESEARCH: SCOTT ELDER

Source: CIES Football Observatory

The 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia will feature 32 soccer teams from around the world. But just because a team represents a country doesn’t mean all its players were born there. Family heritage and dual citizenship are factors that players consider when choosing which country to represent. Of the 32 teams, 25 of them fielded at least one foreign-­born player during qualification for the world’s most watched single-sport tournament.

In the lead-up to the 2018 World Cup, 209 teams from six regional confederations vied to qualify.

UEFA

Europe

CONCACAF

North America,

Central America,

and the Caribbean

AFC

Asia and

Australia

CAF

Africa

CONMEBOL

OFC

Oceania

South America

Foreign-born player’s connection from birthplace to World Cup team

In total, 97 foreign-born players competed for the 32 countries (shown here) that qualified for the 2018 World Cup.

National team with foreign-born players

National team with no foreign-born players

Arrow width shows number of players; those with more than one player are labeled.

7

12

2

2

2

2

Not shown: 35 foreign-

born players who were born in countries that

didn’t qualify

2

2

World Cup win

Between 1930 and 2018, 79 national teams have qualified for a World Cup tournament. Only eight have been champions.

Country

15 or more appearances

Country

7–14 appearances

6 or fewer appearances

Country

Counts of foreign-born players Taken From

official matches played during qualification period.

1 player born in Senegal

but played for France

France

FRENCH EXPORTS

Thirty-five French-born players competed for other countries, such as Senegal, Tunisia, and Morocco—a legacy of French colonialism in Africa and waves of immigration.

13

Morocco

12

Senegal

7

Tunisia

2

Portugal

RILEY D. CHAMPINE, NGM STAFF. RESEARCH: SCOTT ELDER

Source: CIES Football Observatory

1

Argentina

The 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia will feature 32 soccer teams from around the world. But just because a team represents a country doesn’t mean all its players were born there. Family heritage and dual citizenship are factors that players consider when choosing which country to represent. Of the 32 teams, 25 of them fielded at least one foreign-­born player during qualification for the world’s most watched single-sport tournament.

In the lead-up to the 2018 World Cup, 209 teams from six regional confederations vied to qualify.

UEFA

Europe

CONCACAF

North America,

Central America,

and the Caribbean

AFC

CAF

Asia and

Australia

Africa

CONMEBOL

OFC

Oceania

South America

In total, 97 foreign-born players competed for the 32 countries (shown here) that qualified for the 2018 World Cup.

Foreign-born player’s connection from birthplace to World Cup team

Arrow width shows number of players; those with more than one player are labeled.

National team with foreign-born players

National team with no foreign-born players

7

12

Between 1930 and 2018, 79 national teams have qualified for a World Cup tournament. Only eight have been champions.

2

2

World Cup win

Country

2

15 or more appearances

Country

7–14 appearances

2

6 or fewer appearances

Country

Not shown: 35 foreign-

born players who were born in countries that

didn’t qualify

FRENCH EXPORTS

2

Thirty-five French-born players competed for other countries, such as Senegal, Tunisia, and Morocco—a legacy of French colonialism in Africa and waves of immigration.

2

Riley D. CHAMpine, NGM STAFF

RESEARCH: SCOTT ELDER

Source: CIES Football Observatory

Counts of foreign-born players

Taken From official matches

played during qualification period.

This summer National Geographic is partnering with FOX Sports to cover the world’s most watched single-sport tournament: the FIFA World Cup. Tune in to FOX Sports as our reporter Sergey Gordeev presents daily stories about the people, culture, and beauty of host country Russia, and read more of our World Cup stories.