In this question about countries boycotting the World Cup, it was pointed out in several answers, quite correctly, that the national football leagues in question aren’t government agencies and the government doesn’t directly control them, making it somewhat difficult for the government to actually be in charge of whether or not the country boycotts the event.

However, those national leagues will play as “Team Country Name,” the official representatives of that country, at the World Cup, and it seems to me that the government of those countries might (but also might not) have some say over how the country’s name is used and who can or cannot claim to represent the country.

I’m reminded of similar logic used (I’ve been told) by the emperor of Korea when giving his first televised address regarding the poor safety record of Korean Airlines. As I understand it, he noted that Korean Airlines was a private company, but since they were using the country’s name and in a sense representing the country on the international stage—and representing it poorly by its then-terrible safety record—he felt it was appropriate for him to comment on what was going on and express his dissatisfaction. Obviously, that was very much not a Western democracy, but similar logic might still apply.

So do Western democracies tend to assert any kind of rights towards the country’s name and who can and cannot claim to represent the country? Could they tell the national football league that they can go to the World Cup if they like, but they can’t claim to be the official team from that country and must play under some other name? Or can any private citizens of that country use the country’s name as they see fit, and any group of them claim to represent that country for some particular event?

I realize that this is fairly broad, since it isn’t focused on any particular country, but I’m looking for an answer that’s more of political philosophy than it is particular laws—though examples to illustrate the philosophy, or differences in philosophy, would be ideal as well.