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Sport and National Identity

Participating in sports is typically seen as the source of self-actualization through physical exercise and competition. However, apart from allowing one to build a clearer sense of self, taking up sports and participating in sports competitions, especially on a global scale, helps to create the sense of unity and national identity. Therefore, due to the opportunities of global recognition of a participant and their country, sports has become the vehicle for creating a national identity. Naming the international sporting event that could be seen as the source of national pride, one should consider the FIFA 201 since it offered an opportunity to experience competitive spirit on a global scale.

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However, apart from actively encouraging the development of national identity and the sense of national self in both participants and observers, the event in question has also contributed to the promotion of national self-identity creation and the experience of unity among both team members and viewers. The described experience was only possible due to the rigid requirements for the way in which the event was portrayed.

Specifically, FIFA 2018, as well as FIFA, in general, was interpreted as the opportunity for every country in the world to compete on the global level and prove that it has outstanding sportspeople. Moreover, the people that watched the event were actively engaged with the performance of their corresponding team since the victory would mean not only a monetary reward but also global recognition.

Consequently, FIFA 2018 helped fans from different parts of a specific state to unite and, thus, experience both a sense of being together and the feeling of unity. The latter became particularly tangible when realizing that, even with the monumental support that each of the participants received, the spirit of competition was quite strong during FIFA 2018 (Cappello). As a result, the event became the place to celebrate one’s national pride and experience joy when watching the team of one’s choice advance in the global rankings and become well-known across the globe.

Indeed, when considering the existing recordings of FIFA 2018, one will see that the participants of the event were extraordinarily vocal in their support of their teams and players. Although hearing the viewers at FFA 2018 was virtually impossible, similarly to any other FIFA event due to the specifics of the competition and the unique arrangement of the area, the presence of the fans contributed to the sense of togetherness and the support of one’s national pride (Sequeira). Thus, attending the FIFA 2018 event allowed one to feel the surge of pride, the experience of unity and the level of excitement that helped to define one’s national identity and the sense of belonging to a specific nation.

In addition, it was remarkable to see that the participants of the event were eager to use different signs and symbols that helped to show their belonging to a specific group, and, thus, delineate their national identity. For instance, the under-eye ornaments that a lot of people attending the event were wearing allowed them to differentiate between the members of their nationality and the rest of the attendees.

Thus, one could see as the concepts of unity and belonging were expressed with the help of basic symbols and helped to mark the members of the same group so that the rest of its participants could recognize each other easily. In addition, other symbols of a specific national identity, including an actual flag that the supporters of the teams were holding at certain moments of the game indicated that the people attending the event built a substantial amount of national identity during the FIFA event.

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However, the specified trend should not be mistaken for the increased patriotism; on the contrary, the research conducted by Nam et al. has proven that most supporters of FIFA teams return to their status quo after the cup ends and are unlikely to exhibit greater levels of patriotism in their daily life (1922). Therefore, the effects of the increased sense of national identity and unity are unlikely to be long lasting and will only have a tangible impact if events like FIFA occur on a regular basis with short time lapses.

Remarkably, the described event also had a negative side of reinforcing participants national identity and unity within people grouped according to their nationality. Namely, after a game ended, some fans that were discouraged by the outcomes of it would start looking for a fight with those whose team won. The observed phenomenon does not contradict the established tendency toward unity among teams in the slightest; if anything, it only reinforces the fact that people are united based on their sense of national identity. As a result, once their pride is hurt, they start seeking for the means to return to the experience of safety and self-worth, which, unfortunately, may imply using violence against the triumphant group of fans.

Due to the strong connection to the team that viewers support, they are likely to experience the sense of unity and reinforced national identity during sport-related events. The 2018 FIFA Cup is one of the clearest examples of the specified phenomenon, with fans using different symbols and ornaments to represent their belonging to a certain culture. While the observed behavior may have different outcomes on the choices that people make when under the influence of powerful emotions, the effects of the described euphoria are quite short lasting. However, they can be used to encourage unity and promote the development of a clearer sense of national identity in sport fans.


Cappello, Juan C. “Despite FIFA’s Problems, Billions around the World Continue to Be Enthralled by the Beautiful Game.Americas Quarterly. Web.

Nam, Benjamin H., et al. “On the road to the Olympics: a Phenomenological Approach of National Identity in South Korean National Short-Track Speed Skaters.” Sport in Society, vol. 21, no. 12, 2018, pp. 1917-1938.

Sequeira, Sam I. “The World Cup, National Identity, and Unity.Medium. Web.

“World Cup 2018: Fifa warns broadcasters about focusing on women.” BBC. 2018. Web.

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