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Cultural Intelligence

A recent study showed that more than one third of athletes were expatriates in 20141, with almost half of all active professional footballers having experienced international migration during their football career. But mentioning cultural intelligence and professional football players in the same sentence often raises eyebrows or question marks. Why should football players have to worry about working across different cultures?

If we take a closer look at the industry, it becomes clear that players are finding themselves in multicultural teams, surrounded by diverse staff, often in a place far away from their home country. Cultural intelligence (CQ) is defined as “a person’s capability to adapt effectively to a new cultural context”2. When Bastian Schweinsteiger moved from Bayern Munich to Manchester United this summer, he needed to adapt in a multitude of ways: English vs. German culture, club culture, style of football, and coaching style. Not even mentioning the food, weather and language. Culture isn’t defined by national boundaries alone. A cultural transition can take place when making the switch between any two organizations with a different set of values...

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