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Winning together: Migrant goals power nearly half of teams heading to the world’s biggest sports tournament

LONDON, Nov. 11, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — New analysis by Remitly Global, Inc. (NASDAQ: RELY) (“Remitly”), a leading digital financial services provider for immigrants and their families in over 170 countries around the world, reveals that 41% of all the goals scored by the teams that qualified for this winter’s football tournament, were by first-generation migrants or the sons or grandsons of migrants1. And, for 14 out of the 32 countries, the goals scored by migrant players were the deciding factor to qualify. This continues a recent trend of teams with migrant players having success in global football tournaments.

The analysis of the 661 goals2 scored during the competition’s qualifying matches reveals that without immigration the fixture list for the upcoming world tournament would look very different.

Foreign-born players have played a pivotal role in securing a spot for their adopted home nation during the group stages – in particular for the English and French teams. 82% of the goals scored during England’s qualifying matches were scored by migrants, rising to 89% for 2018 champions France.

It’s not just European teams that have been positively impacted by international migration. The USA, the largest destination for international immigration3, saw 86% of their goals scored by migrants and for Canada, 100% of all goals scored were netted by players of Caribbean, African and South American descent.

Looking to South American nations, one of the pre-tournament favourites, Argentina, can also thank migrants for 25% of their goals in qualifying, a significant contribution to their qualification, alongside South and Central American rivals Uruguay, Ecuador and Costa Rica.

Recent history suggests those teams featuring migrant players would be right to be optimistic about their chances of progressing deep into the tournament:

  • In 2018, France won the tournament in Russia with a squad featuring 87% of migrant players
  • In 2014, Germany won in Brazil with a squad featuring 26% migrants
  • In 2010, Spain won in South Africa with a squad featuring 22% migrants
  • In 2006, Italy won in Germany with a squad featuring 13% migrants

The findings are being released to launch Remitly’s Together We’re Stronger campaign, which shines a spotlight on the different ways migrants have enriched our societies and celebrates the enormous cultural and economic contribution migrants make globally. The campaign is supported by the Migration Museum, and will feature across digital media and out-of-home boards across London’s tube network this autumn.

Pankaj Sharma, Executive Vice President, International at Remitly says, “Our analysis shines the spotlight on the power of diversity within football teams. There are players from all over the world, from different cultures and backgrounds, all united to fulfil a common goal – to win football matches for their nation and adopted home.

“Migrants make football teams stronger but their contribution doesn’t start and end on the football pitch. The world would be poorer without migrants, who make an enormous cultural and economic contribution to societies globally. Through our Together We’re Stronger campaign we want to spark a nationwide conversation about migrants and how they’ve enriched all our lives be it through, sport, music, business and much more.”

Matthew Plowright, Director of Communications and Engagement at the Migration Museum says, We’re backing Remitly’s campaign for the same reason we created the Migration Museum – for everyone to come together and share stories, understand and reflect on our connections to each other, as well as explore how migration has made the UK what it is today – as individuals, as communities and as nations.

“Football is part of many people’s lives and as this research shows, wouldn’t be the same without migration. But migration has shaped far more than football. It’s central to all our lives and so many of the things that we know and love from music to art, food to fashion.”

Other highlights from Remitly’s research shows:

  • More than 86% of Belgium’s goals were scored by a migrant, earning them an additional eight points
  • The Netherlands won an extra nine points thanks to migrant goals, with 27 of their 33 goals scored by a migrant
  • Australia’s qualification was decided by a penalty shootout, with three of the five penalties being scored by a migrant

Notes to editors:


  1. For the purposes of this story, a migrant player is defined as a player who was born outside of the country he now represents, or was born to parents and/or grandparents born in another country.
  2. Remitly analysed every goal scored by teams who qualified for the tournament, then assessed whether each goal was scored by a migrant or descendent of a migrant. Remitly then broke this data down to work out how many points that team would have secured in their group without the goals scored by migrants, and whether that would have secured them enough points to qualify for Qatar. Full research available on request.
  3. Source – UN International Migration Highlights

About Remitly
Remitly is a leading digital financial services provider for immigrants and their families in over 170 countries around the world. Remitly helps immigrants send money home in a safe, reliable and transparent manner. Its digitally-native, cross-border remittance app eliminates the long wait times, complexities and fees typical of traditional remittance processes. Building on its strong foundation, Remitly is expanding its suite of products to further its mission and transform financial services for immigrants all around the world. Founded in 2011, Remitly is headquartered in Seattle and has seven global offices, including London, Cork, Krakow, Singapore, Manila and Managua.

Media contacts:
Nikhil Saglani

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