Politricks in the stadium by Melanie Boehi

Article brief
During international sports tournaments politicians visit stadiums not only for the love of the game. Opening ceremonies, deciding matches and final celebrations offer politicians opportunities to make themselves look good on the TV screens of their voters back home and they are unique opportunities for informal diplomatic meetings. Tournaments like the FIFA World Cup or the Olympic Games are important gatherings for the so-called global leaders. While the meetings of the international organisations require openness to some degree and private meetings like the annual World Economic Forum attract close critical observation, sports tournaments don’t feature big in activist’s itineraries. When the game is played, the place to be is in the stadium, in bars or in front of domestic TVs. While spectators indulge in the aesthetics of athletics or get merrily drunk, other balls get rolling in the stadiums’ VIP boxes. State presidents, deputies of international organisations and representatives of the private sector get to talk over opening ceremonies and in half-time breaks.

Much critical writing has focused on the corruption inherent to organisations like the FIFA and the organising of major sports tournaments. But little attention has been paid to what is happening on the stands and in the lounges of the stadiums. What stories could be told if sports journalists paid closer attention to what is going on during the half time break? Should the sports pages include comments on the seating order in the stands? Who is sitting next to whom and talking to whom about what? What if ambassadors and deputies were interviewed about they do during a sports tournament?

Interesting new questions could be what the consequences were for diplomacy if a national team didn’t qualify for an important international tournament and whether non-qualification leads to political disadvantages. How, then, do sports development and diplomatic strategising intersect?

Reading List

  • Dubois, L 2010, Soccer Empire: the World cup and the future of France, University of California Press, California.
  • Kuper, S 2010, Soccer Against the Enemy: How the World’s Most Popular Sport Starts and Fuels Revolutions and Keeps Dictators in Power, Nation Books, New York.
  • Foer, F 2010, How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization, HarperCollins.
  • Senn, A E 1999, Power, politics, and the Olympic Games, Human Kinetics.
  • Galeano, E H 1998, Soccer in sun and shadow, Verso.
One Response to “Politricks in the stadium by Melanie Boehi”
  1. melanie 5 April 2011 at 9:47 am #

    from port of spain: karene asche taking on uncle jack and football politricks: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPBy9FTkXkE&feature=related

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