Purpose – Previous research has solidly demonstrated that successful sports teams and athletes can sway purchase behavior and other critical outcomes (Braunstein‐Minkove et al. ; McEvoy; Bush et al. ). The purpose of this paper is to explore the impact that a globally prominent sports team can have on perceptions of the country by foreigners. The importance of a country's image as a cue in consumer choice behavior is well recognized in the business literature. However, relatively little empirical research has been done in determining what factors influence the formation of country‐of‐origin (COO) image in the minds of potential consumers and tourists. The paper theorizes that loyalty and viewership of a country's sports team will be a significant predictor of COO image. Design/methodology/approach – In all, 951 individuals from four different countries were surveyed to determine their loyalty and viewership of Manchester United Football Club and their perceptions of the geographic home of the team. Findings – The results indicate significant effects of both team loyalty and team viewership on the COO image by foreigners, especially highlighting noteworthy differences between foreigners with strong loyalty toward the globally prominent sports team and foreigners with weak to nonexistent loyalty regarding the interaction of these effects. Originality/value – Few studies have sought to empirically explore what factors influence the formation of COO image. The current research contributes to the ever growing COO image body of knowledge by demonstrating the importance that a globally prominent sports team can play in generating positive perceptions of a country by foreigners. The paper further demonstrates that a country should pursue opportunities that allow foreigners to watch the globally prominent sports team play.
Sport, Business and Management: An International Journal – Emerald Publishing
Published: Oct 4, 2013
Keywords: Country‐of‐origin image; Manchester United Football Club; Team loyalty
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