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Softpower, Soccer, Supremacy

The Chinese Dream


Edited By J.A. Mangan, Peter Horton and Christian Tagsold

Xi Jinping’s "Soccer Revolution" is unique: the most extensive politicization and geo-politicization of the Global Game. His purpose is to extend the global softpower projection of "the Middle Kingdom": an ancient Western imperial mantra ("bread and circuses") has been replaced by a modern Eastern "imperial" mantra ("rice and pitches"). The Asian Football Federation shares this "allopathic" vision of East Asian soccer: the future is Asia and it starts in China! Soccer is a talisman for a New Asia in a New Era. For China soccer is a hubristic instrument of softpower projection. Softpower, Soccer, Supremacy: The Chinese Dream makes this point forcefully. In East Asia soccer in now "much more than a game"!

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11 Sport as a Nation Branding Tool in Divided Korea: Soccer, Status, and Softpower (Udo Merkel)


11 Sport as a Nation Branding Tool in Divided Korea: Soccer, Status, and Softpower

Udo Merkel


Opening ceremonies of mega sports events, such as the Olympic Games and, to some extent, the Soccer World Cup, offer the host countries a plethora of opportunities to communicate with their respective nations and, more importantly, the rest of the world. These cultural spectacles have become colourful, sophisticated and elaborate message boards that serve a number of important social, cultural and political functions.1 First, they provide the citizens of the host country with a sense of self and contribute to their national identity; second, they are unique international marketing opportunities transmitting a positive image of the hosts and, usually, part of a wider nation branding strategy. Third, these creative and elaborate performances are high-profile, public forums for the hosts to communicate political messages to the rest of the world.

Beijing’s impressive but, occasionally, also intimidating opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympics fulfilled all these functions. It depicted the host nation as a “progressive developing country”2 and was widely celebrated as a ‘coming-out party’ emphasizing that the country was ready and keen to wholeheartedly embrace global society.3 The ceremony followed an established template with three main themes: China’s past is a history of outstanding achievements, accomplishments and contributions referring to the invention of gun powder, paper, printing, the compass, tai chi, international trade, and others; the country’s socio-economic, cultural and political development was...

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