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by on April 1, 2013

ImageDiplomacy has been evolving and changing with the world. Negotiation has been obtained through different means within the globalized word, diplomats and state leaders have come out of meetings rooms and strength relation between each other out in the open where the public and open media can witness and take part in strengthening relations. Although the core foundation of promoting national interest still remains how the promotion and negotiation happens has changed. Diplomacy now involves more actors within the international system, diplomatic negotiations can happen even with the people outside the profession, working in other fields.

Sports are a new way states develop relation and negotiate issues that is increase problems between states. Sports are part of new diplomacy. Sport is mixing with politics more and more. States have started to sport diplomacy in order to help reduce tension between states. States leaders are able to improve relation between each other and deal with matters through players and in playing fields. Sports diplomacy is using common bond of sports to “bridge ever-present gaps between nations and cultures”, it introduces young athletes to each other without “the economic, political and military issues that burden traditional diplomacy”. Traditional diplomat would be described as people “in suits and carrying attaché cases, clustered in meetings rooms with interpreters rapidly talking between them” but now missions and negotiations can be carried out by envoys “in shorts, t-shirts and cross-trainers with no briefcases or file folders”

Sports diplomacy is an effective way states can negotiation and understanding can achieved faster. Citizen and state leaders differ in many aspects such as language and culture, also view the matters within international differently so negotiation and understanding might be a problem. However “sport is a language every one of us can speak”, rules, sanctions size of field and number of players may be different from one sport to another but ever sport is the same in every country. Where ever you are in world “ a goal is a goal, a touch down is touch down” and the meaning of a red or losing a wicket is universally understood” Understanding and negotiation can result to positive benefits. Mixing sports with diplomacy can help in many ways such as regime change or it can open doors for dialogue when it is closed to politics, sports can also spread positive values which can increase positive relation like mutual respect, discipline, tolerance and compassion between states and players.

Image  Many states that are known to be rivals use sports diplomacy to de-escalate issues that have increased through political process, it opens space for relation and positive negotiation between states and has strengthened relations between the publics.             India and Pakistan are well known rivals and have been since the beginning of their independence from Britain in 1947. Although during that 1980s tensions were high even with using cricket, the matches between both countries looked like war, players “were expected more to harm the Pakistani than win a match” but the tension between the two neighbours reduced. Matches that were happening during 2008 and beyond increased a sign “of warming atmosphere between the two “countries. “ politically, cricket has always been there to break the ice” people from countries able to forget the hatred and gather together enjoying the sport both love. Leaders from both countries have used cricket events to meet and try to make progress on issues. During 1987 former Pakistani President Muhammed Zia-ul-Haq visited India for a cricket match but also “use the event to defuse a crisis over troop’s build-up within Indian borders.” Pervez Musharraf in 2005 also used cricket as an opportunity to discuss the opening of Kashmir borders with the PM Manmohan.

Sports diplomacy has its benefits an example shown above. It can bring countries like India and Pakistan to discuss issues together however mixing diplomacy with sports has its down side. When sport is mixed with diplomacy it loses its value neutral nature and genuineness because a political goal is attached to it. Even though it has the power to increase positive relation between states and its citizens it also has the power to “solidify cultural ethnic and political identities while reaffirming emotions and igniting old rivalries”. Through sports-as-competition, sports fans can become emotionally involved with their national team which can heighten the sense of nationalism.



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  1. Sports diplomacy is an interesting area so i commend you on your article.sports is a varied area which in many places is exemplified as more than a game. As you mentioned cricket is a good example of this, football is a good example across Europe in particular and in international matches

  2. A very unique and not often accredited aspect of diplomacy has been outlined in this article. Sport most certainly have an impact on state relations and provides ground for team work and cooperation when it comes international matches and organizing sport events such as the Olympics for instance. Having the example of India and Pakistan also brings a valid point of how through a common interest, the tension between two states can be, though only to an extent, reduced.

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