Sports Persons Moving Abroad: The Financial, Legal and Social Consequences

By Athena Constantinou, Managing Director, APC Sports Consulting, Nicosia, Cyprus

Migration is a defining feature of the present times in which we live, with people on the move around the world in search of better lives for themselves and their families. This is a pressing phenomenon – not least in Europe.

This trend is also manifesting itself in the world of sport.

In the last thirty years or so, we have witnessed a large number of sports persons moving abroad for better sporting opportunities in the furtherance of their sporting careers.

Take football, and in particular the English Premier League, for example.

According to Gareth Southgate, the English National Team Manager, only 15% of players in the League will be eligible to play for England in the next ten years; and, in the last football season, only 19.9% of starting slots at the top six clubs were filled by English players.

This trend will continue unless the football authorities encourage so-called ‘home-grown’ players. ‘Brexit’ and the increasing need for work permits for foreign players from the EU to play in the UK may possibly also help to arrest this trend!

Sports persons moving abroad face a number of challenges: financial, legal and social.

Signing a new playing contract in a foreign country comes with a different legal and tax system; a different language; an alien culture; a change of team and colleagues; and a new social context.

As far as sports persons with families are concerned, they will have to cope with additional issues, such as:

  • finding suitable housing;
  • finding suitable schools;
  • establishing new routines; and
  • creating new circles of friends.

They will need professional guidance and advice for dealing with all of these matters.

In particular, they will need to create, at the outset, a support network of reliable and experienced professional advisors in their new home country, who will be able to help them to settle down and, hopefully, integrate in their new working and living environments, with the minimum of delay.

All of this will not be easy and will, therefore, need careful planning and an ongoing awareness of and attention to details!

Athena Constantinou may be contacted by e-mail at ‘athena@apc-sport.com’