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2020 edition of International Basketball Migration Report marks record number of transfers

NEUCHATEL/MIES (Switzerland) - The International Centre for Sports Studies (CIES) and FIBA have published the ninth edition of the International Basketball Migration Report, a seasonal insight into the migratory trends and tendencies of the sport across the globe.

This edition of the report, which covers the 2019-20 basketball season, combines FIBA's knowledge and data on international transfers with the CIES Sports Observatory's renowned expertise in analysis to document the international migration of players for this season. 

The COVID-19 pandemic forced the basketball world to suspend its activities for months starting in March 2020. The uncertainty in how to deal with the pandemic caused most national leagues to cancel the remainder of the 2019-20 season and either declare a champion or leave the title unassigned. Only a few national leagues were able to re-start and crown a winner of the 2019-20 campaign. Internationally, only the Basketball Champions League and the Basketball Champions League Americas resumed and crowned a champion.

With a total of 8,900 transfers recorded for the season involving 7,371 players, this edition truly emphasizes how basketball is a global sport, encapsulated by 213 National Federations and millions of registered players around the world.

Some of the main highlights from this year's findings are:

A record number of international transfers

A total of 8,900 international transfers were registered with FIBA over the past basketball season – an increase of 2.4% in comparison with the 2018-19 season. Some 7,371 players were involved in at least one international transfer, with all FIBA Regions except for the Americas seeing an increase in numbers of international transfers.

Lower number of games played and high number of international players

There was a major decrease in the number of games played in 2019-20 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, dropping to 203 during the 2019-20 season from 260 in 2018-19. China, Germany, Israel and Spain were the only countries with national leagues covered by the Report to finish their respective 2019-20 campaigns with a Regular Season and Playoffs, while Australia played out three games of its best of five NBL Finals series. Out of 16 leagues, the percentage of foreigners was 45.6%, with six leagues having more foreign players than national players. And the playing time of international players was still high in leagues, with the average minutes per game for foreigners in all leagues being 22.1 minutes. 

The COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the NBA, NBA G League and WNBA

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NBA resumed its season in an isolated "bubble" environment with 22 teams playing from July to October 2020. There were just 34 inward transfers recorded by the NBA, the lowest number since the 2006-07 season and down drastically from 137 the previous season. A major reason for this was the cancellation of the 2020 NBA Summer League. The WNBA and NBA G League also saw a decrease in both inward and outward transfers.

Limited development opportunities within leagues for National U21 players

The 2019-20 season witnessed little change in terms of the percentage of national U21 players and their respective playing time, with the percentage in all leagues being 14.9% and the average minutes played per game being 5.2 minutes. 

Click here to download the full report.


About FIBA
FIBA (fiba.basketball) - the world governing body for basketball, is an independent association formed by 213 National Basketball Federations throughout the world. It is recognized as the sole competent authority in basketball by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

For further information about FIBA, visit fiba.basketball or follow FIBA on facebook.com/fiba, twitter.com/fiba, instagram.com/fiba and youtube.com/fiba.

About CIES - The International Centre for Sports Studies
Creating an impact on the way sport is managed worldwide.

The International Centre for Sport Studies (CIES) is an independent study centre located in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. It was created as a foundation in 1995 by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the University of Neuchâtel and the City and State of Neuchâtel.

Using a multi-disciplinary approach (law, sociology, geography, history and management), CIES provides research, top-level education and consulting services to the world of sport. For further information visit cies.ch.