Head of Professional Education at GIS, Dr. Richard Elliott, has had a paper published, entitled ‘Football, migration and mental illness: analysing the problematic nature of international transfers.’ The publication, which feeds into wider research on labour migration in sport, explores a vital, but often overlooked, aspect of international transfers in football. While the media tend to glamourize these multi-million pound deals, the individuals that lie behind the headlines can struggle to adjust to the new environment they find themselves in.

Here, Richard summarizes his findings and what can be done to help support players more through the process…

International migration can be stressful – it is rarely simple or straightforward. Whilst the heterogeneous nature of migratory experiences means that the stress associated with migration may not result in common mental disorders (CMDs) for all migrants, scholars have argued that some migrant groups face greater exposure to risk factors associated with the development of CMDs than others.

In this conceptual paper, I draw on scholarship tracing the migrations of general populations to show that migrant professional footballers may be one such group who are exposed to a greater risk of developing CMDs when they engage in the process of international transfer. Specifically, I identify how having little power within the transfer process can lead some players to experience a loss of status and/or diminished sense of self.

The often-unpredictable nature of international transfers can result in some players experiencing poor self-esteem and an inability to adjust, and separation from physical support networks can result in some players suffering from loneliness, isolation, and an increased vulnerability to the development of a number of depressive symptoms. Taking these factors into account, I make a series of recommendations that could allow clubs to better manage players through these specific periods of vulnerability.

Click here to read the article in full.