Economy / Impact / Legacy / Nations

World Cup Watching

Soft power

Professor Simon Chadwick

Posted: May 18, 2018

A SHORT GUIDE TO FOLLOWING – SOFT POWER

WHAT IT IS

Soft power is: “The ability to attract and co-opt rather than by coercion (hard power), which is using force or giving money as a means of persuasion…the ability to shape the preferences of others through appeal and attraction…noncoercive; the currency of soft power is culture, political values, and foreign policies.” (Nye, 1990)

WHY IT IS IMPORTANT

Sport, particularly football, has become an increasingly means through which nations seek to exert soft power influence and engage key target audiences. Some countries actively engaged in doing this include Great Britain, the United States, and Qatar. This summer, soft power is set to be a hot topic: 1) because the tournament is being played in an environment where there is considerable geopolitical antagonism; and 2) because several nations that are key in global political axes will be appearing at the tournament (for instance, Iran and Saudi Arabia).

WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR

Expect several countries to utilise the World Cup as a means through which to engage audiences around the globe. With several fractious relationships characterising relations between countries at this year’s tournament, some will be seeking to influence people and attract support through, for instance, the way that countries are positioned and presented in Russia. Indeed, the hosts themselves will be using fan zones, mascots, posters, imagery and so forth in an attempt to create a more positive view of the country.

SOME QUESTIONS TO ASK

Which nations will be seeking to exert soft power influence at the World Cup, why, and how will they be doing this?

Who or what will be the target audiences for any soft power battles that may be fought at the World Cup?

To what extent are geopolitical battles being played out through soft power and sport?

SOMETHING TO READ

How soft power is becoming a major player for British soft power http://www.newsweek.com/football-uk-brexit-soft-power-arsenal-premiere-league-527228

Russia is flexing its sports sponsorship muscles https://www.policyforum.net/russia-is-flexing-its-sports-sponsorship-muscles/

A £198m transfer is not about football. It’s about soft power https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/sep/01/neymar-transfer-barcelona-soft-power-asian-governments

SOMETHING TO WATCH

How sports can be soft power https://www.cnbc.com/video/2018/04/06/how-sports-can-be-a-soft-power-uk-sport-chair.html

Joseph Nye – On Soft Power https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_58v19OtIIg

 

About Professor Simon Chadwick

Simon is Professor of Sports Enterprise at Salford University in Manchester (UK), where he is also a Co-Director of the Centre for Sports Business. He is also a Founding Co-Director of the China Soccer Observatory and a Senior Fellow of the China Policy Institute at the University of Nottingham (UK). He has worked in football across the world, for various organisations including companies, federations, and governments. He tweets via @Prof_Chadwick