Reviving Authentic Sports Diplomacy

While the world was preparing for the quadrennial spectacle that would be the World Cup, a crowd at the Allianz Area in Munich broke out into John Denver’s, ‘Country Roads.’

On Sunday, November 13, the National Football League (NFL) had a historic, first-ever regular-season game in Germany as part of their NFL International Series (a series of American football played outside the United States) and returned to Mexico City for the San Francisco 49ers vs. Arizona Cardinals on November 21 as part of the first regular-season game of the year played in Mexico.

But as crowds in Germany and Mexico watched their newly found teams score, the world witnessed authentic sports diplomacy firsthand, a feat rare outside of the pomp and circumstance of significant international convenings like the Olympics or the ongoing World Cup. Global leaders are reminded of the innate power sports have to bring people together despite our shared challenges, even if the sport is unfamiliar.

Sports represent one of the most significant global activities that bring us together in a world where too many things can divide us. And seeing powerful globalization through sports continues to systemize a positive, unique path to transcend today’s differences by harnessing this universal passion.

The power of sports has never been more critical. We know that countries can no longer act alone or bilaterally to find solutions to our shared global challenges. As diplomacy evolves in the 21st century, we must embrace sports diplomacy as a tool for private and public sectors to engage in foreign policy priorities in an increasingly introspective world.


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