Sociology of Sports Mega Events: Sports Diplomacy and FIFA World Cup; ‘Global Peace Building Initiative’

By Bheki Hlabane.

Published by The Sport Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper seek to understand how sport and hosting of sports mega events approach could be used to achieve the nation’s diplomatic objectives. Hosting global sports events like the FIFA World Cup or the Olympics has developed to be the most sought after peace building commodity for many nations. To a certain extent, sports diplomacy appears to be succeeding where traditional diplomacy seems to be failing. The article will argue that the nexus between sports and politics necessitate the application of sports diplomacy to resolve national and international conflicts. Furthermore, the concept of `peace` as the fundamental value inherent in a FIFA World Cup or the Olympic spirit, is recognized as the driving force behind sports diplomacy. Therefore, the article begins from the premises that FIFA’s decision to award the world cup to Uruguay (1936), Japan- Korea (2002) and South Africa (2010), was influenced by the organization’s intention to use sports (FIFA World Cup) as a tool for diplomacy and for the promotion of peace. The first part of the article consists of a theoretical framework based on scholarly research on the subject. The second part provides a historical approach of sports diplomacy within the context of a FIFA World Cup. The article will conclude that sports diplomacy was the primary objective for the world cup in Uruguay, Korea-Japan and South Africa.

Keywords: Sports, Diplomacy, Conflict, Politics, Society, FIFA, World Cup

The International Journal of Sport and Society, Volume 1, Issue 4, pp.105-116. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 643.744KB).

Dr. Bheki Hlabane

PhD Student, Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University, Beppu, Japan

My name is Bheki Hlabane, everybody calls me Chain. I`m currently studying towards a PhD in Sociology of Sports Mega Events at Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University. I came to Japan in 2004 through a scholarship from Japan Ministry of Education. Since 2007 I have managed to establish a strategic network forum in Japan composed of students, academics, government, business, media, community organizations, football fans, football organizations, cultural and community organizations. I have further established a cooperation framework with APU, The South African Embassy in Japan and the South African Tourism office in Tokyo. Have built a good communication channel with the 2010 South Africa World Cup Local Organizing Committee. Events previously hosted include 2008 symposium entitled “Fulfilling the 2010 South African World Cup Promise: Learning from the Experiences of the 2002 Korea Japan World Cup.” The speakers included representatives from the South African Embassy, former Governor of Oita Prefecture, Morihiko Hiramatsu (also Vice Chairman 2002 JAWOK, Honorary President JFA), JATA (South Africa Working Group), South African Tourism ( 2010 Global Marketing Officer), 2010 Host City ( Mbombela) and Emarates (FIFA Official Sponsor). Media campaigns include press conference, NHK interview, newspapers and travel magazines articles in Japan and South Africa.