Will German World Cup win boost 'Mutti' Merkel's ratings?

Football-loving Chancellor seems more popular than ever after Germany's World Cup success

Angela Merkel with the German football team
(Image credit: Guido Bergmann/Bundesregierung via Getty Images)

Germany's chancellor Angela Merkel is "riding high" after Germany's World Cup win, reports the Daily Telegraph. The nation's best World Cup performance in over 24 years and its first World Cup victory since reunification has "done wonders" for Merkel's image over the past few weeks.

Merkel has been called the team's "lucky charm" and according to many German supporters "our twelfth man is a woman".

She was in the crowd for the final on Sunday and German fans cheered as they watched Merkel, nicknamed 'Mutti' or 'mother', warmly embrace each player in turn after the win and present them with their winners’ medals.

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Manfred Guellner, the head of the Forsa polling agency, linked a small spike in recent polls to Merkel's attendance at World Cup matches.

"The chancellor is showing once again ... that she takes people and their interests seriously and is celebrating with them", he said. By posing for selfies with players and showing sincere emotion "she chimed with the majority's attitude to life".

Unlike other politicians who make occasional appearances at large sporting events, fans appear to have happily accepted Merkel as a genuine football fan. As well as showing her support at every one of Germany's matches during this summer's tournament, she consistently attended matches even before becoming chancellor.

Has there ever been a world leader who was a more genuine football fan than Angela Merkel? Sweaty hug from whole team — Rory Cellan-Jones (@ruskin147) July 13, 2014

Her willingness to pose for selfies with the players and her excited reaction to Germany's extra-time goal has further endeared her to football fans.

Selfie 2…:-) pic.twitter.com/RJh7RnXXUw — Lukas-Podolski.com (@Podolski10) July 13, 2014

I have such a crush on Angela Merkel after the World Cup pic.twitter.com/7h4b7bysCT — Bevan Shields (@bevanshields85) July 14, 2014

The surge in support is needed after the negative press Merkel has received in the past few weeks, says the Telegraph. She has had to deal with new allegations that German government officials were spying for the US as well as reports by Der Spiegel magazine that she plans to step down as chancellor.

But critics are sceptical of how success on the field translates into the political arena.

"There has been much pontification on the link between politics and sport but not much hard evidence", says the BBC's Stephen Evans.

Evans points out that research indicates that the link between sporting success and benefits to a nation and politicians is "negligible". Studies show that Merkel "is unlikely to get a great political benefit from the victory on the field", he said.

Merkel's popularity was already at an all-time high before the World Cup and commentators argue that the team's win had little to do with improving it.

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