Soccer is a Highly Contested Cut-throat Game
Many people hold a notion that soccer is a highly contested, cut-throat game. However, soccer has a great role in hosting competitions and being a mediator betweens nations at an international level (Kunczik, 2016). Football touches lives both on a regional and global scale. At times it inspires revolutions, but it also has the capability to create an everlasting peace and lift the participating nations. However, a blend of politics and soccer has significant and far-reaching implications on the international affairs. Of great importance is how soccer developed in America and earned the country an international recognition. The former FIFA president Sepp Blatter once asserted that, “soccer is as old as the universe.” The former president’s assertion relates to the long history of soccer. Rudimentary versions of soccer first played by the Chinese can be dated back to 200 B.C. The game flourished along tracks of superiority expansion of these great innovators. The game later diffused to other parts of the world alongside trading activities. Such areas included Southeast Asia, Western Europe, and Central America which forms the basis of this discussion. The contemporary form of the game developed in Britain in the 19th century. The development of soccer in the United States came later, after the game had gained popularity in the Great Britain. The soccer pioneer, Britain, gave the famous game some of its basic features, especially the use of the pitch. Soccer flourished among the European nobles alongside other games. Soccer has become an integral aspect of the United States in the international relations. Soccer has and still benefits America by increasing American patriotism and easing international conflicts.
The United States Men’s National Team (USMNT) and the United States Women’s National (USWNT) team have had multiple games in the past but none as thrilling and politically important as Iran versus USMNT in America during the 1998 World Cup hosted by France. When Iran had established the Islamic Republic of Iran, fifty two United States citizens were held hostage for four hundred and fourty four days, creating anti-american sentiment among the Iranian people. A while later the two would meet in a soccer game that could have had severe consequences.“ The political significance of this meeting will be ratcheted on by the media… the tension of both the stakes and political tensions between the teams seemed to have grown only under the spotlight.” , This game demanded that the players had to perform at the highest level an athlete can.We can clearly see how politics affects an athlete and sometimes can create a life or death situation in which had Iran lost this match might have done something drastic. However we see the players were able to forget about the politics and peacefully deal with the situation.
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For example, “ But if the anticipation for kickoff was engulfed by a fear that soccer might be taken over by politics, but in fact the complete opposite was the case.” The players did not allow anything to interfere with their game. This allowed tensions between Iran and America to ease up for a short period following the game. Overall, we are able to see how soccer can be viewed as a gateway to peace and is greater than just the sport itself.
Soccer had a significant impact on the American patriotism in the 20th century. The game was regarded as a fundamental prism that played a decisive factor in shaping the idea of collective identity and national unity of the federal state. Viewed internationally, soccer refracted a clear vision of unity that was universally understood. For example, according to Andrei S. Markovits journal article on The Reflections of the World Cup 98’, “ k”. the Women’s team, having been more successful than the mens team were able to produce In Addition, the women’s team increased the percentage of women voter following their World Cup win of 1991. As shown in, Susan J. Carroll’s journal article The Disempowerment of the Gender Gap: Soccer Moms and the 1996 Election, “The fact that the media and the presidential campaigns(as portrayed through the media) became obsessively focused on a group of swing voters labeled ‘soccer moms’ ”. As shown Soccer has been able to influence American presidential campaigns.
Soccer events affected the American political ideologies at international scale in the 20th century. During soccer events the Americans could meet people from different parts of the world and share varied political beliefs. This enhanced peaceful relations between America and other nations in the world, especially those which participated in soccer events. Soccer fans interacted freely and shared different ideas during such events hence fostering international cooperation. Some scholars argued that sport is the societal mirror which reflects the prevailing ideology in a particular state at a given time. The capitalistic ideology of the United States spread to other parts of the world through sports. The western federation used soccer as tool to counter the influence of communism which was spread by the United Socialist Soviet Republic during the Cold War era. Such ideologies helped in shaping political systems of other nations of the world. The game alongside other factors helped the United States to achieve a significant recognition in the international view. It contributed to development of the American imperialism and domination over other countries. This brings out a theme of triumph in the American soccer history.
Soccer created an appealing national brand to the rest of the world. The United States exhibited a good performance in the game during the century contributing to her international prestige. The game formed on of the most effective means of communication in the 20th century surpassing both written and unwritten communication reaching directly to very many people worldwide. Sport, especially soccer became a viable and legitimate means of building cordial ties between the United States and other nations. The game served as an effective instrument of soft power in the globalized world with a capability of impacting the international relations and national prestige both positively and negatively. Soccer helped to strengthen relations between the allies after their victory in the century. Sport earned the United States surplus power in the world beside economic superiority. It formed an integral part of the state’s dominance. Nation-states basically use sport in international relations different main ways. One of them is to sell themselves and enhance their international outlook thus the United States was not exempted. The game provided an avenue which the United States used to punish unacceptable behavior based on their perception. The United States of America used soccer to apply social, political, cultural and economic pressure on foreign countries in order subscribe to her demands.
In another perspective, soccer played a critical role in breaking down international barriers and fostering diplomatic attempts in the 20th century. For instance, one of the United States sports team went for a benchmarking in the People’s Republic of China in 1970s to enhance their skills in the game. It is noted that this was followed by a basketball team visit and laid the basis for President Nixon’s maiden official visit to the nation in 1972 as well as the subsequent normalization of ties between the two countries. The former instance, provided a suitable setting for the Americans to re-engage with China since it was a low-risk testing ground for gauging the public’s reaction to the state and as a way of moving towards rapprochement. Therefore, sport is a valuable tool in the reconstruction of the world diplomacy. Soccer exchanges was used by the state to further her political aims. Soccer as a premier sport, served as a handy conduit for foreign policy in the 20th century. Researchers argue that there is no other form of popular culture that overrides soccer’s huge and participatory passion among its fans. It also generated a lot of revenue to the United States, both at national and international levels. The soccer diplomacy as a way of creating soccer networks played a significant role in forging political and business connections, product promotion, and tourism and education development.
Overall, soccer as a devoted game, had far reaching effects on the United States international relations. It is very important in shaping the America’s history. The theme that comes out clearly in the effects of soccer concerning international relation is triumph. To the Americans, participation in the soccer events in the 20th century was a total gain. The game is a tested and proven powerful means of fostering unity among nations. It was used to spread ideologies for famous gains by the United States. The game is not only important to the state but also elsewhere in the world. It forms an important ground for interaction. Today, soccer has become the most famous game in the whole world with both domestic and foreign followers in virtually all parts of the world. Football devotees interact in the field and sports halls during the matches whenever they gather to cheer their favorite clubs.