Speaking in Havana, renowned Brazilian sports psychologist Regina Brandao of the San Judas Tadeus University, said that of the 2,029 Brazilian footballers signed to overseas clubs over the past two years, 683 (33%) had returned to the country.

Speaking in Havana, renowned Brazilian sports psychologist Regina Brandao of the San Judas Tadeus University, said that of the 2,029 Brazilian footballers signed to overseas clubs over the past two years, 683 (33%) had returned to the country.The academic’s criteria are contained in her paper, “The psychological implications of football expatriation” which was presented at the VI International Physical Activity and Sporting Convention (AFIDE in Spanish) in Havana which was attended by more than 700 delegates from 39 countries.

The celebrated university professor said that the phenomenon of athletes signing for foreign clubs has a significant social impact because it requires a multidimensional adaptation in order to overcome the barriers presented by the full range of circumstances that arise.

Her paper, which showed the results of research undertaken with 23 members of the Brazilian national football squad, shows how what seems to be a perfect world is “often complex and frustrating in reality”.

Brandao told how many of the players had formulated different points of view, reflecting the collision between two cultures, exacerbating the inner conflicts of expatriated players.

She emphasized that cultural adjustments such as separation from the family, not knowing how to speak the language, different food, other tactical and strategic approaches to the game of football, the weather, and the interpersonal dynamics of relationships with team mates, require great sacrifice.

Speaking in Havana, renowned Brazilian sports psychologist Regina Brandao of the San Judas Tadeus University, said that of the 2,029 Brazilian footballers signed to overseas clubs over the past two years, 683 (33%) had returned to the country.She recalled how “The King” Pele, Edson Arantes Dos Nascimento, once told her that he found everything unfamiliar, from the food he ate to the ball he played with and even the pitch he played on.

In her paper, Brandao shows that there is an initial “honeymoon period” during which the footballer finds “everything to be perfect and beautiful, after which the culture shock is most difficult. This is in turn followed by a transition during which the player adapts to his new environment, which eventually allows his sporting ability to flourish”.

She stressed however that the cycle is not always completed in this way and that in countries that have rigid religious and cultural norms, where there is armed conflict, racial discrimination, extreme heat or cold, poor performances or a lack of goals scored, the sadness and loneliness experienced can become even more profound.

Her paper concludes with a proposal for the intercultural training and preparation of the footballer for the general and specific culture of the nation. This includes the teaching of the language spoken in the region of play, an effective social support network within the host team, and help with day to day tasks like shopping, where to eat and among other things, advice on suitable places for family outings.

Brandao outlined that that the greater the gap in faith, values and language, the greater the potential for negative implications.

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