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Holding Sports Mega Events As An Instrument Of Soft Power: The Effect Of The 2018 FIFA World Cup On Russian Nation Branding

Student: Anastasiya Vanchurina

Supervisor: Vera Ageeva

Faculty: Saint-Petersburg School of Social Sciences and Area Studies

Educational Programme: Political Science and World Politics (Bachelor)

Year of Graduation: 2021

Today, the impact and power are distributed between NGOs. In particular, business, international organizations, media and civil society use various instruments to be able to influence public opinion. These instruments are the part of soft power, which is integrated into their foreign policy in order to maximize their influence on global arena. Holding sports mega events is one of this instrument. Thus Russia in 2018 hosted FIFA World Cup. Despite the high costs, hosting such events has a direct impact on nation branding and provides additional benefits in long-term perspective, as far attracts huge international media attention. Therefore it is crucial to understand: which role in nation branding constructing do these events play? By which means desired outcomes can be achieved? In the paper, the research question is formulated as follows: what was the contribution of hosting the FIFA World Cup-2018 in terms of shaping the Russian nation branding? To answer, the qualitative content analysis of Western media coverage (two periods compared: before and during event) was conducted, and the findings suggest the following. FIFA WC-2018 has positively influenced the Russian nation branding: has stimulated the changes of constructed nation image towards positive perception, shifting the emphasis from the authorities towards the ordinary citizens, granting them as hospitable and kind. It also rejected the negative stereotypes and has shown that Russia is not only about Kremlin policies or Moscow, but the huge beautiful country, which is worth visiting. In addition it was found with the help of statistical data that entry tourism rates have increased as well investments attraction to Russia. It therefore proves that the contribution of this event was significant and was ensured by several improvements.

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