Sports, a major vehicle for expression and a big source of global entertainment, can become very influential in the migration journey of many people. As seen in Fatou Diome’s Le ventre de l’Atlantique, a career in soccer and the luxury that comes with it become extra incentives for many migrants to head out to Europe. Those talented enough are granted great opportunities that would not have existed otherwise, propelling many to global stardom.
On the other hand, the sports world and the journey to the top level can exacerbate the trauma and difficulties that already come with migration, including failures to integrate, rejection from the host culture, and failure to find professional success in the host country. From the lack of proper safety nets to a lack of public support from a nation a player tries to represent, there are many ways in which pursuing both dreams can lead to even greater stress on migrant athletes. Stories from the French national team and players in youth soccer academies demonstrate how the realities of life in Europe can blindside many migrant athletes. This is not to say that sport cannot be a major unifier across and within countries, but in a setting that is not too forgiving, sports can help us understand some of the experiences faced during the migration process.