The World Cup - The Best Promotion A Country Can Buy

By 30 May 2018

Is the World Cup really all about the beautiful game? Nope.

Just to clarify, the ''World Cup'' I'm writing about is the World Cup in football, the most popular, most played and most watched sport on planet Earth. I'm aware there are World Cups in other sports, and that the USA has world cups for their national competitions, which sounds North Korea like... ''We're the world champions in baseball! Yaaaaaay!'' No. You are not. Not even a continental one, but hey, whatever makes you sleep at night.

The World Cup is happening in Russia this time, and a sea of people from all over the world will end their football pilgrimage there. And a pilgrimage it is. Preparations for months, and not just for the trip, the stay and the games, purchase special clothes, face (war) paint, props for cheering and chanting, maybe some musical instruments like drums, trumpets or whistles. God Perun be merciful, hopefully, no Slavic version of the vuvuzela. Maybe even some illegal fireworks, torches for the children, smoke bombs for the rival fans. They will all be representing their countries.

Scandinavians will carry their horned helmets, very recognisable, yet historically inaccurate. The Japanese with their red sun bandanas, the Dutch covered in orange, the Brasilians covered in yellow, the English covered in beer. Now, Croatia is very lucky. Our colours are the overused Tricolore: red, white and blue, however, our coat of arms is red and white checkerboard that we put on all our sports jerseys, sportswear or, we decorate our faces with it. Thanks to our sporting achievements, chess players, and Italian pizzeria tablecloths, it is now world famous and recognisable. So much so, that now, the stylised checkerboard is almost obligatory in the logos of all the biggest companies, from airline companies to those in the world of national television.

Also, for some magical quantum reason, when the checkerboard is placed on the football jersey, it's called ''cubes'' or ''little cubes''…even when they're obviously ''squares''. But hey, the love for the country is stronger than the love of math. And wherever football fans covered in ''cubes'' appear, everyone knows they're Croats. This is great, because if you get lost in the crowds like a baby elephant on the planes of the Serengeti, you can easily find your ''family''.

Considering that the last World Cup was watched by 3.5 billion people (half of the planet!), those fans and players are like the UN, the Olympics, Eurovision and ''Independence Day'' the movie combined. They represent us. How your players play, and how your fans act is what the world will notice.

Let’s start with the fans. On one side you have countries like Japan, where fans pick up trash left on the stadium after the game, and on the other side, you have Polish or English hooligans trashing the local bars and restaurants. You have Icelandic fans and their cool battle cry, or the Russian racist chants. Simply put, we can learn a lot about a country by watching its fans. Are the fans educated, responsible, friendly or are they violent, rude and constantly drunk? Are the fans silent, peaceful and clapping, or are they singing until they lose their voice, hoping and swearing until the final whistle? Every country that wants to represent itself, must first think about her fans.

When it comes to football itself, the players are the true ambassadors and representatives of a nation. For some countries, that are young, or small, or poor, this is a promotion they can only dream about. Croatia is a great example. After the dissolution of Yugoslavia, just a couple of years later, Croatia won the bronze medal in the World Cup. A mythological success for such a small country. That was 20 years ago, and still, when you travel the world, this is the most common conversation you will have.

''Where are you from?''


''Creisha? Croasia? Geisha?''

''No, no. Croatia. Europe. Next to Italy.''

''Don’t know.''


''Oh, Croatia! Šuker, Boban, Prosineki! Croatia is great! I love Croatia!''

The same conversation will take place with a waiter in Bali. A guide in Mombasa, or somebody you travel with through Patagonia. The world remembers. Maybe it is less Šuker and more Modrić today, but the lesson is still the same. Without the World Cup, we wouldn’t even exist to a lot of people. And for other bigger countries, football can help with perception.

If you take football away from Argentina, most of the news would be about another economic crisis or an American history channel trying to find where Hitler is still hiding. I bet Argentina has much more to offer to the world than football, but people like Maradona and Messi make Argentinians seem like demi-gods. This is something that asado, Iguazu or Tierra Del Fuego just can’t sell.

So, this World Cup, I wish the best to those that deserve it, but also to those that need it. If you're having trouble promoting your country or you have some bad history to wash away, if you need investments or simply want to be put on the map, try qualifying for the World Cup. It’s worth every penny.