Whether you watch football or not, we all know about the transfer window in the winter and the summer. Some of the transfers make the headlines! But what about the language behind these transfer deals?

Not every footballer in the world knows English, or Spanish for example. So, when teams like Barcelona or Manchester City tempt the world’s best to join their club, they might face a barrier – a language barrier. When Gareth Bale joined Real Madrid a few years ago, he did not know Spanish – but he had to learn quickly. When Roque Mesa joined Swansea, he did not know English… you see the trend here! But before these players signed their contracts with foreign clubs there is a lot of translation and interpretation that takes place.

Translating the deal

Documents such as medical reports and club notes need to be translated before anything is signed. Medical and training sessions need an interpreter present so information between the player and the club can be relayed. And then we get down to the nitty-gritty of the contract itself! You might have an agent who can fluently speak both languages, but that doesn’t mean a professional interpreter will not be hired by the club to ensure everyone agrees.

 

Even after the documents are signed and the photos with your new kit are published – you’ll still need language assistance. Nobody picks a language up overnight. Some players might be lucky that their manager or one of the players are able to speak their language, but that doesn’t mean they will sit you down after every meeting and training session and explain to you what happened. We know all too well of players struggling with language barriers. Take Michael Owen for example. He tried his best to learn Spanish as quickly as possible, but admitted that his language problems caused issues with his career at Real Madrid. It doesn’t matter how great a player you were in your old team. To be great at your new club, in your new team, you need to be able to communicate

This is where interpreters are needed again. For interviews with the press, many players struggling with a language barrier will call upon a trusted interpreter. Back when foreign players were a novelty, clubs would sign their players up for language lessons immediately. These days where most of your team are foreign, clubs no longer see language classes as a necessity. If they can understand certain commands and shouts, then that’s all that matters to some of them.

But what if it’s the manager who doesn’t speak the language?

This happened to Southampton some years ago when they appointed Argentine Mauricio Pochettino. As the manager, he needed to be able to communicate with his team and the staff. When he started at Southampton he had an interpreter present for everything. His press interviews, team talks, training sessions… the lot! His answer to those who doubted a foreign speaking manager at a club was ‘Football is an international language’. He had to learn the language – and how he’s enjoying a great career as a manager in England.

These days we are hearing about a decline in languages. Students in schools are not picking languages for their GCSE’s or A Levels. Maybe because they don’t know what doors could open for them! Well here’s one door that could: Interpreting for a World-renowned club trying to bag a world class player! And it’s not just in football – many sports around the world search the globe for the greatest players they can get their hands on. And you could be a part of that!

So, fancy a career in Football but have two left feet? Become an interpreter!

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