National identities at the 2018 World Cup in Russia

Josip Kesic

During the FIFA's 2018 World Cup held in Russia, expressions of national identitity and the concomitant stereotypes were omnipresent. Not only because the participating teams represent nation-states, but also because the cultural specificity of each nation is emphasized by organisations, corporations and fans. The idea that each nation is somehow unique is noticeable not only in the distinctive aesthetic features but also in the belief that each nation possesses its own character. Often, this national character is a tool to interpret a team's game on the pitch. One example (of many) concerns a comment by the Danish former  player Kenneth Pérez when he was asked which team disappointed him the most: "Denmark. I do not refer to the fact we lost in the second round, but to the manner in which we played. They were not playing at all-in accordance with the Danish DNA. It was so steady, it looked more like Norway." After winning the semis against England, the Croatian coach also explained the team's performance by invoking a more general and 'deeper' passionate national character: "our team was losing three times and had to come back. We are that kind of people, proud and of strong character. This is fantastic for Croatian football and country, […] we do not have a stadium, these are our circumstances, but we do have passion and quality players." How the given team plays is explained by how the nation is.

[To read the extended essay version, click on this link: http://imagologica.eu/CMS/UPLOAD/WorldCup2018.pdf ]

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