Can Soccer Improve International Relations?

Title: Can Soccer Improve International Relations?
Authors: Eden, Jon Theis
Date: 2013-09-09
Abstract: The paper establishes that international soccer plays an important role in foreign policy by improving the communication between countries and by extension their international relations. The paper demonstrates how sports and political ideology have often mixed historically and continue to do so today. Sport’s ability to be used as a tool in building national unity and in shaping collective identities is also discussed. What follows is an overview of sport’s role within international relations and foreign policy. The subsequent section focuses more specifically on how soccer is used as a tool in foreign policy and international relations and explores the possibility that soccer can succeed in situations where business, political and diplomatic initiatives have failed. ‘Soccer and Diplomacy’ explores the subject through a number of practical examples ranging from Brazil’s national team in Haiti, to the Iran’s national team visiting the United States. Four case studies examine real world scenarios where soccer has had a direct impact upon the political relationships of countries. The first case study - ‘ The Case of Egypt & Algeria’ - is a negative example of how international soccer games can lead to more animosity at a diplomatic level. The two case studies that follow - ‘The Case of Turkey & Armenia and ‘The Case of South Korea & Japan’ - exemplify how soccer has helped to improve international relations. The case study on FIFA - the organization’s governance and its decision to place the 2022 FIFA World Cup in the Gulf - illustrates that soccer’s international governing body does not live up to its own idealized expectations of honorable fair play and sportsmanship it shows on the pitch; off of it. With the aid of the case studies and the literature review, the paper demonstrates clearly how soccer can be utilized as a tool in foreign policy to improve international relations between geopolitical entities.
CollectionAffaires publiques et internationales - Mémoires // Public and International Affairs - Research Papers