Team and Nation: Sports, Nationalism, and Attitudes Toward Refugees

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How do major national events influence attitudes toward non-nationals? Recent research suggests that national sports team wins help foster national pride, weaken ethnic attachments, and build trust among conational out-group members. This paper asks a related question: By heightening nationalism, do these victories also affect attitudes toward foreign out-groups, specifically refugees? We examine this question using the 2019 Africa Cup football match between Kenya and Tanzania, which Kenya narrowly won, coupled with an online survey experiment conducted with a panel of 2,647 respondents recruited through Facebook. We find that winning increases national pride and preferences for resource allocation toward conationals, but it also leads to negative views of refugees’ contribution to the country’s diversity. However, we present experimental evidence that reframing national sports victories as a product of cooperation among diverse players and highlighting shared superordinate identities can offset these views and help foster positive attitudes toward refugees.




Rosenzweig, L. R., & Zhou, Y. Y. (2021). Team and Nation: Sports, Nationalism, and Attitudes Toward Refugees. Comparative Political Studies, 54(12), 2123–2154.

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