Before it has even started, Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine has already seen much controversy. Specifically, the Ukraine has received a lot of negative attention about racism, about women rights and about the treatment of Yulia Tymoshenko. This is at the expense of reaping the benefits that are linked to hosting an event such as the Euros – namely increased prestige and positive external perception, which leads to a stronger reputation and therefore enhanced political influence, as well as increased tourism and export (Johntson, 1985).( As a side note, it also shows – once again- that Democracy is a pre-requisite for successful nation branding – if you are interested in more about this specific topic follow this link.
Whilst the host nations are in the prime position of increased knowledge and perceptions about their country (both positively and negatively, hopefully both triggering change for the better due to higher public awareness and attention), the performance of all the participating national football teams will impact the external perception of their nation brand:
- The performance of a national football team influences the external perception of a nation brand in relation to the degree of awareness, perceptions and knowledge that already exists in the mind of the audience.
- The stronger these perceptions are, and the better well known a nation is, the less the performance of a national football team influences the external perception directly nevertheless slow gradual change can be achieved.
- The lower the level of awareness, perception and knowledge that exists in the mind of the audience and therefore, the less well known a nation is, the higher the impact of the performance of a national football team on the external perception.
- Participation in an international football tournament, especially if repeated, can lead to lasting change for less well known nation states.
- International football tournaments such as the World Cup or the Euro will become even more important as a stage for nation branding, as media usage is expected to become more personalised and fragmented.
- The building of a successful football culture becomes beneficial for any nation brand. It can be achieved on different levels: national football teams, famous football clubs and/or internationally renowned star players.
- The more top players of a given nation play in the top international football clubs, the higher the impact on the external brand perception.
- The combination of creative star players and a successful campaign of a national football team in a major tournament will lead to the highest impact on a nation brand.
- As the structure of the society is mirrored on the pitch, it suggests that established traditional nation states will be the most successful footballing nations.
- Postmodern states will continue to build on their success if they manage to integrate foreign talent which will be helped through their still significant reputation as a football power.
- Increased heterogeneity and changed media consumption will put even more importance on the individual as a personalisation of the nation brand and on public diplomacy through interaction between citizens of different nations.
- Star players are the anchor of a nation brand and can influence its perception by transferring their own values onto the values of the nation brand.
If you are interested in further reading on this subject, have a read of my dissertation “How does the performance of a national football team influence the external perception of a nation brand?”.