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Perspectives review: Sports and a Country's International Image

Original article by: Agata Dembek (Ph.D. candidate at University of Warsaw, a qualitative social researcher and evaluator) and Renata Włoch (Adjunct Professor at the Institute of Sociology, the University of Warsaw, sociologist and IR researcher) Review by: Kateřina Marxtová, PR assistant at IIR New research article: “The Impact of a Sports Mega-Event on the International Image of a Country: the Case of Poland Hosting UEFA Euro 2012”

What do you do when you want to seem cool? Style your hair and post some duckface selfies on Instagram? Throw a huge party? The possibilities are endless. For an individual, I mean. Now, let’s consider a country. It has no hair of its own and can hardly take a selfie. So what about organizing a party for a bunch of friends? Actually, Poland got this very same idea and held the UEFA 2012 (Union of European Football Associations), which worked quite fine. So, is Poland now accepted by the main actors of the international politics as a cool buddy? And should other countries try to do the same to get involved?

Using a mega-event to promote a country is a well-known strategy. It can show off country’s culture and uniqueness to the world and also entertain people at the same time. The UEFA is just one example of many. These events become more and more important for those who want to move closer to the international politics’ centre of gravity. Just like Poland. (Or the Czech Republic).

This is the premise where the authors of the research article pick up with their claim that “the key problem of Poland is not a bad or negative international image, but rather the lack of an international image.” That is why Poland took the risk of hosting UEFA 2012 with the aim to introduce the country to the world and to deny existing stereotypes. Did it work though?

The authors question whether hosting UEFA 2012 had a significant impact on Poland’s public image. They mention the main problems that occurred during this particular event (such as fights on 12th June) and question whether they were handled correctly. Even though the article was focused strictly on Poland’s UEFA 2012, it provides insight into the process of improving a rather negative image of basically any country.

So what about you? Do you approve of this way to promote a country’s image or would you rather support the hair-and-selfie plan??

Read the whole article in the latest issue of Perspectives (Vol. 22, No. 1, 2014) in your library or order one online today!

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