EM-Sensationsteam Island What business leaders can learn from Icelandic football
Last Monday "Iceland" was trending on social media. Over 1 million searches in Germany alone. It was like the whole world was surprised that Iceland could beat England. We are of course talking about the men's European Championships. Icelanders were surprised too, actually that is not correct, they were ecstatic and still are. The Icelandic football shirts are sold out and thousands of Icelanders are flying to Paris to see Iceland play against France on Sunday.
That Iceland qualified was already a sensation. It was the first time the Icelandic men's football team has ever qualified for a major tournament and Iceland is the smallest country ever to qualify for the European Championships. Thousands of Icelandic families planned their summer holidays around the first games so that 10% of the Icelandic population showed up for the first game against Portugal. Very few believed that Iceland would go any further and Ronaldo certainly didn't, this is what he had to say after Iceland achieved a tie against Portugal:
"Iceland celebrated as if they had won the whole Euro. That's a small country mentality, they'll never amount to anything."
It was already a great underdog story that Iceland made it through to the knockout round. Everybody assumed that England would win, they were on paper the better team, but Iceland won, against all odds. For some betting companies it was the largest payout ever. Since then all kinds of theories have emerged on why the Icelanders could make it so far in the European Championships. Although it looks like an overnight success we all know that is never the case, neither in business nor in sports. There is always a backstory and it is from those backstories that we can learn and also apply some principles to business.
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