Soccer Diplomacy: The World's a Stage

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Sports have always been used to influence diplomatic, social, and political relations. Referred as sports diplomacy, it transcends cultural differences and bring people together.

Sports diplomacy has emerged as an integral part to build relationbetween countries. It uses universal passion for sports as a way to transcend linguistic and socio-cultural differences and bring people together. This also helps in generating dialogue at the grassroots level.

While the Olympics is often the biggest political example of using sports for diplomatic means, cricket and football, as well as other sports in the global arena, have also been used.

Sport was used to isolate South Africa and bring about a major overhaul in the country's social structure. While ethnicity and race can cause division, sports can also help blend differences. In fact, soccer is now the best instrument that may also help countries come together.

Brazil is currently in the grip of soccer fever. The 20th FIFA World Cup is underway, with 32 nations competing for the ultimate glory in the sporting arena.

President Dilma Rousseff is in a diplomatic overdrive as the World Cup kicks off, with meetings planned with two dozen leaders including Vladimir Putin, Angela Merkel. Brazil is trying to make the most out of the global spotlight.

Despite affording less time to the international arena than her predecessor LuizInacio Lula da Silva, Rousseff has a chance during the Cup to strut the diplomatic stage on home turf.

Foreign policy during the Cup will be important. One of the most anticipated meetings is with US Vice-President Joe Biden, which President Dilma Rousseff will be looking up to. The high-level US visit is seen as a chance to better relations between the two countries.

Rousseff is looking to push a free trade agreement between the Latin American Mercosur bloc and the European Union.Brazil will be hosting a summit of the BRICS developing giants -- Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa -- on July 15, two days after the World Cup final.

Putin, whose country will host the 2018 World Cup, has already confirmed his attendance at the final and at the summit, while his fellow BRICS leaders will be in the northeastern city of Fortaleza for the summit, if not necessarily in Rio for the match.

Earlier, soccer diplomacy has helped Russia and Britain in resolving their dispute. The relations between the two countries were worsening after the mysterious death of former FSB agent Alexendar Litvinenko in London in November 2006. The UEFA Cup final between St. Petersburg Zenit and Glasgow Rangers took place in Manchester on May 14, and the Champions League final between two British teams - Chelsea and Manchester United took place in Moscow on May 21, 2008. Moscow and London eased visa procedures for soccer fans.

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Diplomatist Magazine was launched in October of 1996 as the signature magazine of L.B. Associates (Pvt) Ltd, a contract publishing house based in Noida, a satellite town of New Delhi, India, the National Capital.