The Iceland football team won itself a fair few fans during Euro 2016, even before they beat England in the last 16.
Fans of countries who didn’t even qualify for the tournament travelled out to France to cheer on the debutants, who made the quarter-finals despite drawing from a population of less than half a million – the smallest of all 24 participants.
Now the Icelanders have made another major tournament, with their men’s team qualifying for the World Cup in Russia, and they’ve begun a major recruitment drive… for new fans.
President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson has been spotted mingling with fans before, preferring to sit in amongst the crowd rather than in the corporate seats, and now he – along with First Lady Eliza Reid – has begun getting people on board to join ‘Team Iceland’.
Jóhannesson has made some interesting calls in the past, most notably attempting to ban pineapple as a pizza topping, so he knows a thing or two about populism.
We’ve got on board with Icelandic traditions in the past, so we’re already more open to following their lead when it comes to football, and it turns out we’re not the only ones.
More than 11,000 fans from across the world have joined ‘Team Iceland’, and the catalyst has been this video from the President and First Lady.
And based on their skills in this clip, we can tell there’s at least a base level of ability required to actually play for the team rather than just cheering it on.
You can sign up for ‘Team Iceland’ here, and by doing so you’ll get your own Icelandic name and a chance to win a trip to Iceland to watch their World Cup opener against Argentina with the locals on 16 June.
Scottish fans were among those to adopt Iceland as their team during Euro 2016, and they’ve remained loyal, with MSP Angus MacDonald showing his support.
Plenty of others have confirmed Iceland as their second team despite their own country qualifying, with new fans from Mexico…
While fans of the United States, who missed out on the tournament despite having a population nearly 1,000 times that of the European nation, have also adopted Iceland as their new favourites. Some of them didn’t even need the President’s encouragement.
So, when England inevitably bow out at the group stage yet again, you know where to turn.
(Images: Inspired by Iceland/Twitter)