Going abroad to play: Motivations, challenges, and support of sports expatriates

Marian van Bakel, Susan Salzbrenner

Research output: Contribution to conference without publisher/journalPaperResearchpeer-review


Professional athletes moving abroad for their career is a novel phenomenon in IHRM. This exploratory paper charts the motives of sports expatriates to move abroad to play, as well as adjustment challenges and support. A survey was conducted with 108 sports expatriates in 12 different sports. The main motivations to move abroad were the search for new challenges, followed by an interest to experience life abroad. In terms of challenges, different coaching style and communication issues were most often mentioned. Support was mainly informal, through team mates rather than professional providers. Our paper contributes to the literature because it is one of the first studies focusing on sports expatriates from an international HR perspective. Our study provides information on a vulnerable group of expatriates; they are young in age and under extreme performance pressure. Sports expatriates need all the support they can get, and yet, little professional support is offered.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventEuropean Academy of Management 2018: Research in Action - University of Iceland, Reykjavik, Iceland
Duration: 20. Jun 201823. Jun 2018


ConferenceEuropean Academy of Management 2018
LocationUniversity of Iceland
Internet address


Dive into the research topics of 'Going abroad to play: Motivations, challenges, and support of sports expatriates'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this