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How does the performance of a national football team impact on the external perception of a nation brand – part 6

This post is part of a series about “How does the performance of a national football team impact on the external perception of a nation brand?” You can find the previous 5 posts here:

The World Cup – the most important stage

Performance impact on nation brands

Victory or Style – differing degrees of importance

The individual is the strongest ambassador for a nation brand

Football as the mirror of a society’s structure


External and internal perception are intrinsically linked

The impact of a national football team’s performance on the external perception of a nation brand is intrinsically linked to the impact of the performance of a national football team on the internal perception of a nation brand.

For less well known nations a good performance combines the positive external awareness with increased confidence by the citizens: after Greece won EURO 2004, the whole country changed. Winning increased the people’s morale enormously and gave the citizens a desire to show the world that they are good at other things as well as football. At the same time the world became more aware and interested in Greece and all things Greek. This was heightened by Greece subsequently hosting the Olympic Games. The victory also had a positive impact on the players: before winning the competition they were perceived as average players, since this success more of them now play in top European leagues. The victory gave them the confidence that they can beat the best teams and made them believe that they can compete with the best in club football. At the same time, the victory also changed the perception of the external observers and more Greek players are now being perceived as better than average and able to compete at the highest level. At the same time, Greece achieved their success under the German manager Otto Rehagel, which reinforced Germany’s external perception and changed the positive perception of Greece in Germany. At the same time Greece is a good example on how only sustained succcess on and off the field stabilizes the perception of a nation brand and how quickly it can change.

For well known nations this link between internal and external perception also exists. A World Cup provides the opportunity to create a positive patriotism, while pushing the ugly face of extremism to the sidelines. Sporting events provide the opportunity to re-appropriate national icons and emblems. In the case of England, the nation brand was tainted by right wing extremists who were also responsible for trouble at sporting events. Having a majority of citizens supporting and identifying with the performance of the national football team enabled the reclaiming of the St George’s flag and it return from the right wing back to the centre of society, which in turn effects the external perception of England and underlines the modern, diverse and inclusive character of the nation brand.

The next post is the last of this series and it takes the role of the observer into consideration. It’ll be published on Monday, 21st of June.

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