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labour migration


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The movement of sportworkers, both within countries, and across national and continental boundaries, to play at professional levels in sport. On the international level, this refers not to the international match between individuals (as in say boxing) or in travelling tournaments (as in say tennis), but to the membership of a club or a team in a country not of the player's birth: Irish and Scottish players in English football; Canadian players in English ice hockey in the 1930s; Australian players in English Rugby League; Cuban players in USA baseball; African players in French and English football. The migration of players has been a source of economic mobility for individuals, and often an influence on improved standards in and standing of the sport. Or in the global media age—Japan's Hiteka Nakamura in his years playing for Glasgow Celtic in Scotland—it has boosted the television audience, and sales of club merchandise, in the player's home country. Labour migration in sport has therefore done much to internationalize sport cultures, and to establish multicultural profiles in some sports. There is also a negative approach to labour migration, which appeals to the nationalist sentiments of the receiving country, and argues that labour migration can stunt the growth potential of its home-grown sport performers. Some nations also exploit migratory aspirations and patterns, by offering rapid routes to national citizenship for individuals from, say, South America, who can then play in the national football team of a European country. Labour migration in sport is therefore a positive influence, generating an international dimension to a national sport, but also a target for ethnocentric and racist reactionaries who claim that migrant players are diluting the national sporting resource. It has also been shown, by David Runciman (New Statesman, 29 May 2006), that the recruitment practices of clubs in wealthy countries can have a deleterious effect on the football culture of the African player's home nation.

Subjects: Sport and Leisure.


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