As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, more and more professionals find themselves embarking on international assignments. Yet, behind every successful expatriate is often an overlooked figure: the expat spouse. Their support and well-being are crucial for the overall success of the assignment, a fact that we at Absolutely French deeply understand and advocate for. One of our interns recently made an interesting connection between his life in London and his experiences so far living and working in Paris that is a great example of this. Read his account below!

Insights into Expat Spouses in Football

Personally, as a student hailing from England, I was unfamiliar with the intricacies of expatriation until my time at Absolutely French. Witnessing the challenges expat spouses face and the impact it can have on family dynamics has been pretty eye-opening. It reminded me of the  recent story of Arsenal Football Club under the leadership of manager Mikel Arteta. As someone born and raised in North London, I have supported the club all my life, and the journey the club has undertaken over the last few years has been amazing! 

Successfully Supporting Expat Spouses

Arteta’s Arsenal and Expat Spouses

In a footballing sense, Mikel Arteta’s tenure at Arsenal has been marked by a profound philosophy that has rejuvenated the club. However, like any journey, there were setbacks. This season, Arsenal experienced a slump before Christmas after winning just one in seven games. This raised doubts about their title aspirations. Arteta, recognising the need for a shift, organised a training camp in Dubai during the winter break. Surely some winter sun would help inspire his players! Well, what set this apart from previous warm-weather training camps was his decision to also invite the players’ partners.

It’s crucial to recognise that many footballers today actually are expats. FIFA reported 74,836 international transfers in 2023, meaning numerous players relocated, often with families or partners. With players frequently changing clubs, their partners face repeated adjustments to new cultures and environments.

Successfully Supporting Expat Spouses

Building Bridges Beyond the Pitch

Through inviting players’ partners, Arteta has taken on the challenge of fostering bonds within his team. Since the winter break, many have formed friendships, often now seen together outside of training. The success is evident as partners of high-profile players like Kai Havertz, Martin Odegaard, and Leandro Trossard, among others, frequently attend Arsenal games together, sharing photos on social media. This initiative underscores the importance to cultivate support and community within and beyond the pitch.

 Check out some photos of the players’ partners watching games together here and here!

‘It Gives You a Much Bigger Sense of Belonging’

When asked by Mail Sport about the players and their partners socialising, Arteta said the following:

 ‘That’s great to see obviously because it’s needed. We have a lot of foreign players that obviously have their families, wives, girlfriends around and they need support.

They need to build those friendships and those close circles around them. We have created that, big credit to them and how much they have put into that because it’s really helpful for the team so if they are happy, much better because the players are gonna be happy and more settled’

‘It gives you a much bigger sense of belonging somewhere when you really feel that you are part of something.’

Successfully Supporting Expat Spouses

Building Bridges: The Impact of Expat Spouse Support at Arsenal

This decision proved pivotal. The bonds formed among the players’ partners translated into a renewed sense of camaraderie on the field. Arsenal’s performance post-Dubai has been nothing short of remarkable. The team has 16 wins from 18 league games, reigniting hopes of a long-awaited title. The trip to Dubai became a turning point, showcasing the tangible benefits of supporting not just the players, but also their families.

Successfully Supporting Expat Spouses

Read our article about Anglicisms in French here!

Expatriate Success: Arteta’s Arsenal as a Model

The lesson from Arteta and Arsenal is clear: a holistic approach to expatriation yields the best results. This narrative mirrors the ethos of Absolutely French. Just as Arsenal’s success on the pitch is intertwined with the harmony off it, the success of international assignments hinges on the support extended to expat spouses. Absolutely French stands firm in this belief, advocating for a comprehensive approach that values the contributions of every member of the expat family. We understand that a happy expat spouse, feeling integrated and supported, contributes significantly to the success of the expatriate professional. Businesses, take note: when you’ve got happy spouses, your whole team shines brighter!

So, hopefully I have shown you that the story of Arsenal under Arteta’s leadership serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of supporting expat spouses. By nurturing a sense of community and inclusion, businesses can unlock the full potential of their expatriate talent. Let’s take note from the pitch and apply these principles to the realm of international assignments, ensuring that success knows no boundaries!

Have you witnessed instances where the successful integration of expat spouses has directly contributed to the professional success of expatriates in their work assignments? If so, we’d love to hear about it, so leave a comment below!