Beyond the Action: The Cultural Adjustment and Integration of African Athletes in the German Football League

DSpace Repository


Dokumentart: PhDThesis
Date: 2022-11-07
Language: English
Faculty: 6 Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaftliche Fakultät
Department: Sportwissenschaft
Advisor: Thiel, Ansgar (Prof. Dr.)
Day of Oral Examination: 2022-05-12
DDC Classifikation: 796 - Athletic and outdoor sports and games
Keywords: sports , immigration , integration
Other Keywords:
African football migration
Cultural transition in sports
African footballers in Germany
Coping with and adapting to transitions in sports
Otherness and Integration in German football
Integration and transnationalism
Order a printed copy: Print-on-Demand
Show full item record


This dissertation explored the cultural transition experiences of elite transnational African footballers in Germany, their coping and adaptation practices, and the interaction of transition with their transnational lived world. It was anchored on the theoretical argument that athletes’ relocation from one cultural and sporting context to another alters their established life balance, which requires the reconstitution of self, behaviours and relationships in order to achieve career continuity and normal life functioning. Approached from a social constructivist epistemological standpoint that individuals construct reality within embedded social structures and social practices, a qualitative research design was used to examine the research problem. Through qualitative interviews and a digital ethnography of social media, data were collected from aspiring youth footballers in Africa and elite transnational African footballers in Germany to answer the research questions. Presented in four independent papers, the study revealed four important themes interlinking the research papers: a) While the cultural distance emanating from the wider society still remain, sporting culture related differences are narrowing for transnational African athletes because of European modelled academies training youth footballers in Africa; b) Transnational African players focus on their athletic identity while in transition which enables them to manage difficult experiences while focusing on the goal of career advancement and securing livelihood for self and family; c) Experience of otherness is both a structural phenomenon and an agentic experience of African athletes in transition in Germany; and d) a strong transnational sphere of belonging is important for African athletes’ adaptation and integration.

This item appears in the following Collection(s)