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

Yang-Yang Zhou and Leah Rosenzweig

Zhou and Rosenzweig
University of British Colombia and Stanford University
March 10, 2021
APCG Members

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


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 towards 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.

Key words

nationalism, sports, refugees, intergroup relations, difference-in-differences, Tanzania, Kenya

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