What to Watch During the 2018 World Cup
Guest Post by Elaine Clayton
The FIFA World Cup gets people all over the world excited; over one billion fans tuned into the final competition in 2014. It’s a chance to showcase their national pride and see their country represented on the world stage.
Each team has its own cultural style, depending on the country they’re from. All team members have to communicate, play and interpret the game in the same way in order to successfully move the ball and achieve goals. Let’s take a look at examples of cultural styles behind some of the 2018 World Cup teams, according to the GlobeSmart learning tool.
All players on a team need to work together to win a game, no matter where they’re from. However, being a “team player” is defined differently in different cultures. While some teams value players standing out as individuals, others value conforming to the social norms of the group.
For example, British players are more comfortable sharing their personal opinions and accomplishments with the entire team. They don’t hesitate to disagree with the coach or their teammates. Japanese players, however, tend to be more cautious in sharing different views and take more time to find consensus with the whole team before making a decision. They firmly believe that harmony on the team is most important, on and off the field.
Interactions between teammates and their coaches differ between countries. While some cultures are generally more comfortable having a dialogue with leaders, others place more importance on hierarchy. Players from Denmark, for example, likely speak more informally with their coaches than the Tunisian team. They share their ideas freely and a Danish coach would likely not feel insulted if a player challenged his/her opinion.
In contrast, Tunisian players generally do not feel as comfortable sharing different opinions with leadership. They act within the hierarchy of the team, and formalities are seen as a sign of respect. A Tunisian coach would succeed by asserting his/her authority and addressing teammates by their titles or positions.
Preparing to Win
Every team wants to win, or they wouldn’t be playing in the World Cup. However, how a team prepares to succeed differs by country. For example, when compared with Japan, the team from Belgium is more likely to stick to a strict schedule and plan their training based on what worked in previous years. They focus more on the task at hand than anything else.
In contrast, the Japanese team prioritizes relationships. They are less likely to follow a set plan if it’s at the expense of a relationship or connection, even if there was evidence that the plan was the best way forward.
Teams tend to have their strategies prepared before the World Cup, but, some feel more comfortable making last-minute decisions during the game. Mexican culture typically values quick decision-making, flexibility and taking initiative more than those in Portugal. They are more likely to switch up a play based on how the game is going, no matter how risky it might be.
Teams that are less risk-oriented, like Portugal, want to be certain of their game plan before making any decisions. While they need to make some last-minute decisions during the game, they feel more comfortable taking time to research and ensure the plan is right before moving forward. Whether they are more or less willing to take risks during the game, teams from both Mexico and Portugal take input from the whole team before making any decision.
Feedback and Criticism
Teams react to feedback and criticism in different ways, depending on whether direct or indirect communication is their cultural norm. A French coach, for example, is more likely to give candid feedback to a team, which could easily turn into a debate. Teammates who don’t get to their points quickly in the debate could be looked down upon.
In contrast, a Spanish coach would prefer not to confront the team, and the players would be less willing to ask questions or give direct feedback to the coach. Instead, certain things would be left unsaid and members of the team would be used to picking up on subtle hints in order to improve.
Cultural style is just one aspect that helps dictate how World Cup teams work together. Other dynamic factors like individual personalities, coaching styles, and circumstance also contribute to how a team plays the game. Understanding cultural styles gives us a new perspective on how players around the world may interpret and play the game differently.
To learn more about work styles and how they can impact the teams in your workplace, download our Tip Sheet: The One Thing You Can Do To Get The Best Work From Your Team.
If you’re watching the matches this season, see if you can catch any of these differences on or off the field. Let us know what you see in the comments.
About The Author
Elaine Clayton is a passionate intercultural communicator based in Washington, D.C. She’s lived and worked abroad in Spain, Ireland and Tunisia and obtained her Masters in International Communications from American University. Elaine writes about exploring cultures around the world on her blog, Travelaine.com, and hosts an event group to explore cultural festivals and different restaurants in D.C.