Denmark and the World Cup - close, but 'no cigar'

Mr Ulrich Keller

Dr Troels Troelsen

Posted: June 11, 2014

Denmark has been a regular participant at many World Cups, but is missing out this time. Close but “no cigar” – the missed final round participation, as well as the team’s performance during the preceding qualification phase have stirred a lot of public unhappiness with both the national team coach and the Danish Football Federation.

Firstly, the coach failed to rejuvenate the team in due time, and relied too heavily on older players – he seemingly knew what he was doing.

Secondly, the federation neglected to renew the set up around the team – and the top management in the Danish Football Federation was strongly dominated by senior managers. This has dramatically been changed since the final-round qualification was missed.

Having missed qualification, interest in the WC 2014 is rather low in Denmark. At least for the first rounds. I am sure it will warm up in the quarter finals and, if Sweden ends up doing very well.

I will report again when the WC is up and running.

But then, the 2014 World Cup, as viewed from a Danish perspective and a business perspective:

Whenever a large number of journalists are at the same location, they generally only have non-sport, unrelated political and secondary topics to write their stories on – and so they do. And unknowingly influence each other.

The 2014 Brazil World Cup is plagued by construction problems and overdue projects, civil unrest among poor citizens who would prefer improved housing, enhanced infrastructure, broader education systems and more affordable and better health care; in sum: better living standards. This unrest is directly fuelled by political parties, who want to gain on the unrest.

Journalists, at least in this moment in time, shift the focus of their work on addressing who can benefit from the use of money for ‘the wrong purposes’.

But sport is for the middle class. They can afford it. They watch it. They enjoy it. And they love it.

The less-fortunate people LOVE sports but get frustrated by investments and cash infusions into the economy, which are mostly benefitting the middle and upper classes.

One group of stakeholders – which are never taken fully into account – are virtually all exporting companies in Brazil and acknowledged Brazilian products. Sponsoring or not, there will be a strong focus on everything branded, known of, or produced in Brazil. South Africa experienced this with SA wines, which increased considerably in sales – without being a sponsor at World Cup 2010.

We sports economists have never tried to measure the general effect on the image or brand lift created for all Brazilian companies and products. This effect might have the biggest economic impact of hosting a World Cup, and this will also be case for Brazil, especially as Brazil is an emerging country and economy. Tokyo and Seoul experienced this big time when they hosted the Olympic Games. A change of product image results in huge increases in exports. A favorable change that was followed and enhanced even more by the Japan-South Korea conjoint hosting of the World Cup 2002. Post-World Cup 2006 Germany experienced a change in regards to their national brand: from X to a new friendly national brand. It might be reasonable to argue that this advancement has considerably improved lot of additional exports that were never measured. Extra exports could originate from the fact that country X, for instance Germany but also Brazil, gains an extra story to tell. In other words, a salesman from a World Cup-host nation has an additional narrative that makes him more interesting for the good-receiving country. 1-2 years before and 1-2 years after, i.e. the “the shoulders” of a mega sports event.


About Dr Troels Troelsen

Dr Troels Troelsen is director for Sports Economics and associate professor at CBS. He is the most quoted researcher in the Danish media on sports economics. His career has involved: Lecturing at Sports MBA´s, president  -Danish Atletic Federation, member of the elite commitee  – Danish Olympic Commitee, sponsoring organisation in IAAF, the academic board of TSE Consulting and World Champion for Masters.

About Ulrich Keller

Ulrich Keller (MSc and LLM) is a Research Coordinator and Project Manager for a multiparty industrial pricing excellence project. He holds Elite and Excellence degrees and is a Doctoral Candidate. Ulrich’s expertise centers on sports economics, managerial economics, branding, marketing and (dynamic) pricing. He has consulted on various high-profile international pricing, sports and event projects.