Sport as a National Propaganda Tool: The Case of Georgia

Following their victory in the final qualifying match of Euro 2024, the Georgian national football team chanted, "Abkhazia is Georgia." This act is nothing but a feeble attempt to unify the Georgian people by leveraging sporting achievements to promote national-imperialist propaganda amidst a serious political crisis.

It is widely acknowledged that undemocratic regimes use sport as a propaganda tool to stir nationalism, flaunt the supposed superiority of their nation based on sports triumphs, display power, and breathe "new life" into their governance, which suffers from fragile legitimacy, thereby enhancing their image nationally and internationally. Ultimately, all these objectives are united under a common propaganda umbrella.

Mussolini, football as a politics
Mussolini, a fan of football, was an expert at using the sport to benefit his fascist ideals.

A classic example of this strategy can be found in Italy under Benito Mussolini. Italy demonstrated the effectiveness of using international sports triumphs for propaganda. The National Fascist Party, branding football as a "fascist game," sought to use it to control public opinion, infiltrate the daily lives of its citizens, and gain advantages on the international stage. The 1934 FIFA World Cup hosted in Italy was a prime illustration of this approach.

Similarly, Nazi Germany employed this tactic effectively during the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, aiming to showcase a strong and unified Germany, especially after the devastation of World War I.

1936 Olympics, Nazis
Hitler saw the 1936 Games as an opportunity to promote his government and ideals of racial supremacy and antisemitism.

Unsurprisingly, authoritarian regimes continue to use sports as an unmatched platform for their national propaganda.

According to Freedom House, Georgia is classified as "partly free," with the country losing points annually, indicative of an increasingly authoritarian regime. The broader context shows that Georgia is not on the path to democratic development. This is evident in its failed attempts to join the European Union, issues with the fairness of the judicial system, widespread corruption among the elite, lack of transparency, lobbying of controversial bills, and suppression of free media.

Against the backdrop of such a significant political crisis, the Georgian people grasp at any opportunity to satisfy their imperialist ambitions—this time, using their victory in the final qualifying match of Euro 2024, not to unite the Georgian people around a joyful sporting achievement, but to broadcast to the world the nationalist ideology of their ancestors, passed down through generations.

First published by Mediat.ak Instagram channel.

Also see:

+ "Georgia for the Georgians": The Evolution of a Nationalistic Slogan
+ What’s Yours Is Mine: Nation-Building and Extraterritorial Nationhood Inside the South Caucasus, by Krista A. Goff




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