African migration to Europe features various practices and pathways. In recent years, football has become one of them, particularly among young men. So far, academic studies have predominantly focused on structural dynamics and have widely portrayed parts of this phenomenon as a dubious business that contributes to the exploitation of thousands of young migrating players. However, since anthropological research in this context is limited, rather little is known about the players' actual experiences in this process. Hence, we aim at shifting the perspective and showing a nuanced picture of this phenomenon. By referring to migration biographies of two ambitious (yet rather less successful) African players we investigate both how football migration relates to other forms of South-North migration and in what way it is a sport-specific practice. Given that African football migrants often experience precarious conditions during their journeys yet hold on to the hope to make it as a professional player in Europe, we further look at how the concept of "judicious opportunism" contributes to an understanding of their migration projects.
Department of History

Ungruhe, C., & Büdel, M. (2016). Im Spiel bleiben. Ethnologische Perspektiven auf Fußballmigrationen aus Afrika. ZEITSCHRIFT FUR ETHNOLOGIE, 141(1), 81–99. Retrieved from