The World Cup 2018 kicked off last week in Russia, with 32 teams taking part in the group stages of the football competition.
Henley prides itself in being a truly international business school, and so during the tournament we will be taking the opportunity to showcase the diversity of culture and experience we have here on our campuses.
Below are a few words from our ambassadors for the competing countries, and their predictions for the winner:
Professor Gunnar Rimmel, Professor of Accounting, says: “I have lived in Sweden for 24 years now. Sweden is a great country with beautiful nature. During the summer and many weekends I live on a small island Rörö (250 inhabitants) in the northern archipelago of Gothenburg, which is the west coast of Sweden. I commute between Gothenburg and Reading. In 2013, I became a dual citizen which means that I am German and Swedish.
“To me this World Cup is of course rather problematic, as my two teams happen to be in the same Group F. So my tip is that the match against Germany will be a 3:3 draw. With regards to football, I have the grace in losing as Ronaldo combined with the attitude of Ibrahimović! My tip is that Sweden will come second in Group F but that they will lose in the round of 16 against Brazil 5:4.”
Prediction: “Germany has to do the job and win the final 1:0 against Brazil.”
Dr Anastasiya Saraeva, Lecturer in Reputation and Responsibility, says: “I was born in Russia, but back then it was the USSR. What makes Russia great? A simple answer – everything! Russia has epic history, unique and beautiful architecture, world renowned art, music, and literature; magical winters; it is home to diverse cultures and religions; and above all – Russians are actually warm-hearted and open people!”
Prediction: “The Russian team will be lucky to get out of the group…while Brazil is my favourite to raise the cup this year.”
Dr Rodrigo Perez-Vega, Lecturer in Marketing, says: “I am Mexican – Mexico has amazing landscapes and a very rich history. However, I think what makes Mexico a great country is the warmth of its people, and how easy it is for strangers to just talk to you as if you knew them before. I guess this might be intimidating for some, but people get used to it.
“I think if we manage to pass the first round we could see Mexico at least in the quarter finals. This is tricky, considering the group where we’re in with Germany.”
Prediction: “I feel Germany has high chances of winning the World Cup, although I would like to also see countries like France or Spain in the final.”
Dr Jongmin Lee, Lecturer in International Business and Strategy, says: “I am from South Korea, officially, the Republic of Korea. It is one of the most innovative countries in the world, with long history, cultural heritage and warm-hearted people. South Korea has participated in World Cup tournaments 10 times but reached the Round of 16 only twice. I hope this time we make another one.”
Prediction: “Brazil seems quite strong this year. But it is the World Cup, prediction does not work well…”
Dr Stephan Gerschewski, Lecturer in International Business & Strategy, says: “I was born in Germany, and lived in Germany for the first 25 years of my life. It is a great country and has been historically called the ‘country of poets and thinkers’ (‘Das Land der Dichter und Denker’).
“Germany is the country with the arguably world’s best beer, sausage, and bread. Germany will be the first country since 1962 to defend the World Cup title (Brazil won the World Cup in 1958 and 1962).”
Prediction: “Germany will win!”
Naeema Pasha, Head of Henley Careers, says: “I remember the 1998 World Cup final and even had a t-shirt with Allez les Bleus! I felt a pang of pride when France won on French soil, under the magnificence of Zidane. This man was enigmatic for many reasons, not least because he was French Algerian, and for many Muslim children at that time, he was a role model that showed them, they could be part of the country and even seen to lead it. I worked in Kedge Business School in France, working with MBAs and Masters in Management. Henley Careers partners with Careers in EM Strasbourg and EM Normandy who have showed us what a very entrepreneurial approach to career development looks like.
“It is unlikely Les Bleus will win, as they did pretty bad in the Euros and are up against a tough group. However – they do have a brilliant player and a captain in Paul Pogba. Similar to the days of Zidane, as Pogba is a practising Muslim, we see another player who inspires millions of French Muslims to feel part of the country, and not alienated. The sense of belonging by having a team that represents France’s diversity and multi-ethnic mix is to be celebrated.”
Prediction: “I’m into robots and future of work, and a machine learning algorithm said Germany would. I agree. Let’s see if the robots are right…”
Dr Adeyinka Adewale, Lecturer in Organisational Behaviour, says: “I was born and raised in Nigeria. Nigeria is a nation of 180 million great, industrious minds. Think of any industry today and I bet Nigerians will always be amongst the trail blazers. We make things happen and know how to seize the moment.
“We’ll make the quarter finals for sure!”
Prediction: “Brazil will win.”
Federica Fiorini, PhD in International Business and Strategy, says: “For me Denmark represents a country promoting freedom for the individual, equal opportunities, respect and tolerance. I studied my master’s degree in Denmark and I have lived in Copenhagen for two years. I think Denmark will pass the first stage.”
Prediction: “Germany may win the World Cup.”
Professor Adrian Bell, Associate Dean (International) and Head of the ICMA Centre, says: “England is a great country because it invented football. We should get through the group stages before losing gloriously in the round of 16 on penalties.”
Prediction: “Brazil will obviously win, although a South American team has never won the World Cup in Europe – saying that an European team hadn’t won it in South America until the Germans did it last time out.”
Dr Andrew Hull, Teaching Fellow in International Business and Management, says: “I spent three years working in Sydney for an Italian company called Luxottica. The beauty of the country, weather and the Australians’ love of sport are obvious attractions but I also loved the food (not all BBQ), the wine (they keep the best for themselves) and the ‘can do’ attitude of everybody I met. Not sure they will progress beyond the first round (remember, they have a small population and they also play AFL, rugby league and rugby union in the Winter).”
Prediction: “France (don’t think England are a realistic proposition and my wife is French!)”
Dr Claudia Murray, Research Fellow in Real Estate and Planning, says: “Despite living in England for over twenty years, I was born in Argentina, hence my support for the country in the World Cup.
“Argentina had a very poor qualifying campaign and despite having one of the best players possibly in the history of football, experts believe this will not be enough to lift the cup. They have a difficult group to overcome, with Nigeria and Croatia proving troublesome, but they still should reach the quarter finals.”
Prediction: “England are being given little chance but with the pressure off, they might surprise us all. Brazil are at the top of the form at the moment, and will certainly reach the semis, possibly the final. However, the one country that always manages to peak for the finals is Germany, so I would regrettably have to side with them as winners.”
Dr Jonathan Passmore, Director of Henley Centre for Coaching and Behavioural Change, says: “I am Professor Catedrático (Full Professor) at the University of Evora, Portugal. Portugal is a beautiful country, particularly the areas around Evora, which has both wonderful countryside and amazing neolithic sites like Avebury. I think they will reach the semi finals.”
Prediction: “Brazil will win.”
Professor Keiichi Nakata, Head of Business Informatics, Systems and Accounting, says: “I was born and raised in Japan – it has nice food, vibrant cities and a beautiful countryside.”
“How well will they do? It is already an achievement for Japan to have qualified!”
Prediction: “Germany will win.”
Dr Chardin Wese Simen, Lecturer in Finance, says: “Senegal is a great country because of its welcoming culture and its tradition of great thinkers, e.g. Senghor. I have family living there.
“Realistically, I expect the ‘Lions of Teranga’ to qualify for the knockout stages and exit the tournament in the round of 16. In the best scenario, they will match their best performance in a World Cup (2002) by reaching the quarter finals. This is no mean feat. Only 2 other African teams have reached the quarter finals: ‘The indomitable Lions’ of Cameroon (1990) and ‘The Black Stars’ of Ghana (2010).”
Prediction: “Germany will win the World Cup (again!). They are an impressive team with a stable coaching team (which is rare these days). Even Brazil could not stop them in 2014! The cup is theirs to lose really.”
Andre Pineli Alves, PhD student in International Business and Strategy, says: “I’m from Brazil, and will go back home when my studies here are finished next year.”
Prediction: “I really believe Brazil will be the champions (this is the first time I have this feeling since 2002).”
Professor Anupam Nanda, Professor of Urban Economics and Real Estate, says: “I have undertaken a funded research project related the property industry in Panama and published the findings. I like the unique geography and economy – so much defined by the canal, with very friendly and welcoming culture. However I think Panama may not be able to reach quarters.”
Prediction: “Spain will win.”
Professor Bernd Vogel, Director of Henley Centre for Leadership, says: “I have enjoyed living and working in St. Gallen for close to seven years, however, our first daughter was born there, that’s what really counts! Getting to the knock-out stage is really doable. Then it is getting interesting: could be Germany next…”
Prediction: “As much as it pains me say, I have less faith in my home country (Germany) this time, so it will be Brazil.”
Professor Abby Ghobadian, Professor of Management, says: “Iran is the country of my birth and like all Iranians I am a passionate supporter. Iran is a fascinating country with varied landscape, rich history, great monuments and architecture, fantastic cuisine, friendly and hospitable people. We are in a tough group, group of death. This is Iran’s fifth appearance in the finals. Despite not losing a single match in the qualification rounds it is hard to see Iran progressing beyond round 1 at the expense of Spain and Portugal, two of the favourites. But one can always hope and they will have fantastic support as already St Petersburg has been taken over by Iranian fans.”
Prediction: “Tough to call. I’d like England to win it. Fifty years is a long time to wait. So my money is on England.”
Sylwia Kosiek, Admissions Officer at the ICMA Centre, says: “I am Polish. Poland is a country located in the heart of Europe with a beautiful Baltic Sea and breathtaking mountains. Poland also gave the world the greatest Pope it has ever had, John Paul II. I hope we will do very well, we have the advantage of having a prolific striker Robert Lewandowski! I think Poland will reach the semi-finals.”
Predictions: “Portugal will win.”
Dr Claudia Murray, Research Fellow in Real Estate and Planning, says: “I’ve managed many projects in Colombia and have been going there at least once a year for the past 4 years. I’ve travelled the length and breadth of the country, which gave me an opportunity to admire its natural wealth and interact with its warm and welcoming people. Colombia is in the same group as Poland, Japan and Senegal. I’d expect them to qualify for the knock-out stages. However, they will then come up against either Belgium or England, and this will probably be the end of their tournament.”
Prediction: “Germany will win.”
Raihan Al-Haddad, PhD student in Leadership, Organisations and Behaviour, says: “I was born and raised in Saudi Arabia, and am doing a doctorate researching female empowerment with a scholarship from Saudi Arabia. In the first game Saudi plays against Russia. I am very excited because Saudi is one of the first countries to participate in the World Cup. I am very optimistic that Saudi will win the match.”
Prediction: “Saudi Arabia. If other people can do it, they can do it too.”
Irina Tomic, Social Media Content Assistant for the ICMA Centre, says: “I come from Montenegro, Serbia’s neighbouring country, once part of Serbia and Montenegro, and my grandfather was Serbian as well. It’s a country of hospitality, kindness, openness and warmth. When you meet Serbian folk for the first time, make sure to shake their right hand. On every other occasion from then on, they will most likely kiss you on both cheeks – three times!
“I think Serbia will win the first match against Costa Rica; it will be a close call against Switzerland with Brazil being the toughest opponent. I am confident Serbia will go past the group stage, but afterwards – hard to predict!”
Prediction: “I’d say Brazil and Germany are top contenders, with Spain and France as close second and third.”
We cheated a little bit with this one…
Dan Kiernan (top left), Career Development Consultant, says: “I will be on holiday in Croatia during the World Cup. It’s a great country because the coastline is as beautiful as Provence, the people are as straightforward as the Germans and the food is as good as Italy.”
Prediction: “I think they will be the surprise package of the tournament and win!”
Dr Ivan Sangiorgi (below left), Lecturer in Finance, says: “I will be supporting Croatia at the World Cup. Two skilled Croatian football players – Ivan Perisic and Marcelo Brozovic – also play for FC Internazionale, which is my favourite football team. Since its independence in the early ‘90s, Croatia is proving to be a country full of talents. Beautiful cities, landscapes, people, amazing food and liquors – e.g. the famous Modica, similar to the Italian grappa! – are vibrant signs of this ‘young’ gifted country.
“Can Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Mario Mandzukic carry Croatia to the latter stages? If the Croatian coach will be able to lead and make a real team out of the individual talents of this squad, Croatia could be the underdog of the competition. Potentially it could reach the semi-final – see 1998 World Cup in France!”
Prediction: “I think Brazil is the real candidate winner of the World Cup. After the big defeat at 2014 World Cup, it is time for Brazilian players to show that the previous experience has taught them a great invaluable lesson!”
Dr Irene Garnelo-Gomez, Lecturer in Reputation and Sustainability, says: “I was born in Spain and lived there until I was 24, when I moved to the UK. Spain is well-known for its fantastic weather and food, but worth noting that it also has 46 UNESCO World Heritage Sites (including Las Medulas, situated in El Bierzo, the region where I come from). The Spanish team is one of the favourites for this World Cup (they won in 2010), but the coach has been sacked two days before their first match, so I am not sure how it will go.”
Prediction: “I think either Portugal or Brazil will win.”