Singing your way to World Cup victory

“If you are singing your national anthem passionately then that gives us an indication of the togetherness of the team – of being connected to the people around you and to your country.”

Dr Matthew Slater, Senior Lecturer in Sports and Exercise Psychology

New research suggests that football teams who sing their national anthem with the most gusto are more likely to win the World Cup.

Dr Matthew Slater, Senior Lecturer in Sports and Exercise Psychology at Staffordshire University, led the study which looked at teams pre-match behaviours at UEFA Euro 2016.

“We were interested in how much passion the players showed during their national anthem and whether that had any relevance to their performance in the subsequent game.

“If we are making predictions for this World Cup then look closely at how passionately teams perform their national anthem and you might just pick a winner!”

Both verbal and non-verbal clues of passion were observed in the players including facial expression and body language as well as vocal performance.

The study found that football teams who collectively sang their national anthem with more passion went on to concede fewer goals and were more likely to win matches in the knockout rounds.

Passionate renditions of the national anthem were observed in winners Portugal throughout the tournament and other teams who sang with gusto included Wales, who made it to the quarter-finals, and Italy, who went on to the semi-finals.

Dr Slater said: “If you are singing your national anthem passionately then that gives us an indication of the togetherness of the team – of being connected to the people around you and to your country.”

“We know that if there is that strong level of togetherness, we are more likely to put in more effort for one another, to be more committed and therefore perform better.”

It was reported that Roy Hodgson instructed players to sing the national anthem at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, however Dr Slater believes that a sense of togetherness and team spirit cannot be forced.

“It's not just something you can do out of obligation when you are told to, you actually have to mean it and feel connected to the people around you.”

Read Dr Matthew Slater's article 'Why football teams who sing their national anthem with passion are more likely to win' on The Conversation UK.

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