We all have a rough idea of what we Spaniards think about our country, about its strengths and its weaknesses But how is Spain seen from abroad? What makes Spain stand out and be a reference point for other countries? What areas promote the so-called «Spain Brand” ?
In my opinion, there is an area that is recognized, admired and always relevant in our country, both inside and outside our borders – sport. In recent years, while Spain’s image has been seen nationally and internationally in a negative light due the economic crisis, sport has maintained a level of excellence that has positioned it as a flagship for our country.
In the last five years we have seen Spanish athletes crowned world champions in sports as diverse as football (our national team has been both world and European champion ), basketball (champions of Europe), swimming (with Mireia Belmonte making history at World championship level), motorcycling (Lorenzo and Márquez , the latest two MotoGP world champions), ice skating (Javier Fernández making history), athletics (with our Miguel Angel López marching towards glory), badminton (with Carolina Marín winning the World championships against China, which has more than 100 million badminton licenses ) and a very long list of excellent sportsmen and women that place Spain as one of the the leaders in the world of competitive sport.
So how can the rest of Spanish society benefit from the excellent performance of our sportsmen and women? From my point of view there are some sectors of society where this can be a possibility. For example the enrolment of elite athletes into our universities and educational centres should be more widespread in order to promote the values of sport. Our elite athletes, who have already embraced these values and achieved success, should participate in the in the education of future generations. In business, companies could be invited to associate their image with our sportsmen while at the same time the athletes can be involved in the daily life of the company.What better way to promote your company than using the image of an elite athlete? What better way to defend the values and principles of your company than them being associated with an international athlete? As for tourism, one of the lifelines of our economy, what better way to advertise tourism and give it prestige than by associating it with sport? Regarding this last point, the Region of Murcia, with Alonso Gómez (Director General of Sports), Manuel Fernandez (Director General of Tourism) and José María López (President of the Union of Sports Federation) who headed the delegation, this week signed a pioneering agreement at national level with the Higher Council of Sports to promote the Murcia Autonomous Region as a sports tourist destination. This agreement will see more events being developed in the Region, as well as creating more opportunities for training and the general practice of sports. This will undoubtedly increase tourism, making it less dependent on the seasons (as is so much of our tourism) while giving the sector an all-round boost. This is a clear example of the improvements we need in both the public and private sectors, in order to bring about a complete change in society based on both the values and the approach to working that have led us to be phenomenally successful in sport. Doing this we can improve the current economic situation in Spain and all areas of our society can enjoy the sweetness of Spain’s sporting success. It’s time to back our sport and it is time for sport in Spain to step up to the plate and put the «Spain Brand» where it deserves to be on the international stage. Will we be able take on this challenge? Only time will tell.