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Football Threw Iceland into Spotlight

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Football Threw Iceland into Spotlight

Football practice

The Icelandic men’s national football team. Photo: KSÍ/Facebook.

According to the Guardian, Iceland’s success at the EURO 2016 in France in July had a wide-ranging effect. In fact, it spilled over the football field and into numerous areas of business in Iceland. Those who appear to have benefited from all the media attention the football team received are dairy farmers, tour operators, publishers, crime writers, airlines, investment fund managers and a supermarket chain.

It is the hope of all those that the national team’s success continues. Iceland is now competing for the right to participate in the FIFA 2018 World Cup and is currently at the top of Group I, along with Croatia.

The Guardian interviewed several people who believe their success can partly be explained by that of the football team. Crime writer Ragnar Jónasson, a serious football fan, was interviewed by Paris Match just before the Euros began, sporting his football shirt. His book Snjór (Snow) subsequently became one of the best-selling books in France over the summer.

Úa Matthíasdóttir, rights director at Forlagið publishing house, explained, “In terms of selling rights, it makes things better. Getting in contact with new publishers, meeting people from different countries, it makes it easier when people know your country actually does exist, and the football certainly helped.”

Football success also appears to have scored with the producers of skyr, the fat-free dairy product from Iceland. Agnar Friðriksson of MS Dairies remarked, “Success in football and success in skyr sales? There’s no question there’s a positive relationship – the team has helped with marketing in the UK.”

Football success even affected the airline business. Skúli Mogensen, owner of WOW Air was extra busy during the Euros, transporting Icelandic fans to Paris and back. Extra flights were added as the team moved on in the championship. In Skúli’s view, the team’s spirit, character and camaraderie had a wide-ranging effect. “It also earned well-deserved respect for what we have been building here in Iceland. There is a lot of interest now from foreign investors.”

In August, Icelandic financial services company, Gamma, received a license to operate in London, the first Icelandic company to get such a license since the crash in 2008.

The British frozen food chain Iceland benefitted from the attention of the Icelandic team, reaching 72 million people during the championships.

Heimir Hallgrímsson, coach of the Icelandic men’s national football team, is grateful to the team’s fans who received much attention with their Viking clap: “We had such a good advertisement. Not even a volcano could have done that,” he stated.

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