The (promotional) value of public-spiritedness

Irish football fans at Euro 2016

Authored by: Neil O’Boyle

The Routledge Handbook of Popular Culture and Tourism

Print publication date:  June  2018
Online publication date:  July  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138678354
eBook ISBN: 9781315559018
Adobe ISBN:


 Download Chapter



In this chapter, I reflect on the relationship between tourism and popular culture generally, and sport and nation branding specifically. Sport has long played a central role in nation building (and more recently, branding), and national myth-making through sport is common across all continents and wholly reliant on the media. Indeed, Rowe et al. (1998, p. 133) argue that ‘there is surely no cultural force more equal to the task of creating an imaginary national unity than the international sports-media complex’. In this chapter I examine the media lionizing of Irish football fans attending the 2016 UEFA European Championship in France (hereafter ‘Euro 2016’) and reflect on the implications of this for Ireland as a tourist destination and nation brand. In both the domestic (Irish) and international news coverage of this tournament, Irish fans were applauded for their conscientious and affable behaviour while in France, with much of this news coverage focusing on video footage of Irish fans taken on smartphones and posted to the Internet (most likely by fans themselves). As the tournament progressed, therefore, Irish fans quickly became the ‘feel good’ story of Euro 2016, with many of their videos receiving millions of views online. Portugal emerged as the eventual winner of the tournament, but in nation brand terms, Ireland was arguably the real winner. Here, I examine the role of these travelling football fans as (unofficial) promotional subjects of the Irish nation brand. To begin, however, let us consider the relationship between tourism, popular culture and destination marketing.

Search for more...
Back to top

Use of cookies on this website

We are using cookies to provide statistics that help us give you the best experience of our site. You can find out more in our Privacy Policy. By continuing to use the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.