Why does the U.S. Department of State support sports diplomacy?
While the United States leveraged the power of sports even before the ping pong diplomacy era, the U.S. Department of State’s Sports Diplomacy Division—formerly SportsUnited—was established in the wake of 9/11 as a means of reaching out to youth in the Middle East through soccer. Our scope has expanded to include all regions, thousands of participants, and the full spectrum of sports. Housed in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), our people-to-people sports exchanges open doors in hard-to-reach places and engage communities at the grassroots level.
We believe that if we can sweat it out together on the field or court, then we can see eye-to-eye with one another. When leveraged thoughtfully and strategically, we know that sports can be a platform to champion foreign policy priorities—inclusion, youth empowerment, gender equality, health & wellness, conflict resolution, and entrepreneurism.