THE ROLE OF SPORTS DIPLOMACY IN AFRICAN INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS: THE CASE OF CAMEROON
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African states have yet to master fully how to apply sports to achieve their interests and to build their political power and influence globally. When sports goes beyond national boundaries, it becomes an intimate companion of diplomacy. Sports diplomacy is an increasingly important aspect of diplomatic practice and growing part of global sports industry. The main purpose of this study was to establish the role of sports diplomacy in the pursuit of Africa’s and Cameroon’s national interest in particular. The study sort to examine and analyze the role of sports diplomacy in advancing regional interests in attaining Cameroon’s national interests, foreign relations and in Cameroon’s foreign economic relations. This study was using cross sectional surveys and sampling to select those to be interviewed to help get the right information. The hypothesis formed were “sports diplomacy can be utilized to advance Africa’s interests as a region, sports diplomacy can attain Cameroon’s national interest in public relations. Sports diplomacy can positively influence Cameroon’s foreign economic relations. They were used in the formation of the questionnaire. The study established that sports diplomacy could be used in the pursuit of national interest and that sports diplomacy could be seen as part of identity building for a state. The study also found out that image building was an effective strategy aimed to attract investors that are in early stages of decision making while at the same time position Cameroon as a regional leader. The study recommends that the government needs to further embark on an active campaign for Cameroon to utilize sports diplomacy in the pursuit of national interest in Africa and the world at large.
In the highly globalized world there are various actors in the international arena but states continue to play a key role in the struggle to attain power and prestige. Hard power is no longer considered the main method of attaining legitimate power, soft power is considered just as important as hard power. According to Wilson, “soft power is the capacity to persuade others to do what one wants”.Nye adds on that, “Persuasive power is based on attraction and emulation and associated with intangible power resources such as culture, ideology, and institutions.” “Emphasis is however put on legitimacy for the concept of soft power to work.”
Since the United Nations goal of maintaining international peace and security, states looked for other ways to legitimize their superiority peacefully and the use of sports as a tool of soft power is one. It is for this reason that sports can be considered as one of the most exciting modern phenomena—modern because, in its current form, it was born no longer than 150 years ago, exciting because it wins the interest of millions of people.
International community uses international organizations to engage states in multilateral relations;
sports too have international sporting organizations for various sports but the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is the only organization that brings together al
Professional sports and states in one venue at one point. It is for this reason that the IOC is the most competitive in international arena for states to acquire prestige and build their image. “Moreover, the Olympic Charter concedes that at the heart of the modern Olympic movement is a desire to contribute” “to building a peaceful and better world.” Sports have become an instrument of identity for countries.
Sport is a political and diplomatic arena where politics parodies sport and vice versa. This means that sports as diplomacy can be used as a tool to heighten confrontation when relations between two nations are poor, or, if relations start to improve, sport can also create and accelerate diplomatic momentum. The “first boycott in sports was organized by Allied states after the Great War, so sport spirit was betrayed since this event and athletes became toys of international politics. The fact that sport was non-political could not be true anymore”. Arnaud argued that:
‘Sport, even Olympic sport, would not be able to avoid political arbitration [..] It was at this time that sport became an instrument of propaganda and a means of exerting diplomatic pressure. It is no surprise that, a few years later, the totalitarian states would remember the lesson that the democratic states had taught them?’
“The concept of national interest is a very useful one which policy makers should never forget. It helps to place foreign as well as domestic policy on the framework of a national policy, and it is
a much needed antidote to political shortsightedness and partisanship. The concept of Cameroon national interest in the diplomatic field centers on security and development on three levels, namely: the West African sub-region, Africa and the World.” “In the increasingly smaller global community, ‘national interests’ do not necessarily mean that they are good for the international community; they should be good to serve the state itself in relation to other states and non-state actors. Neuchterlein (2001) says a country’s foreign policy, “consists of self-interest strategies chosen by the state to safeguard its national interests and to achieve goals within its international relations milieu.
Sport as a tool of diplomacy is the problem that this project sets out to investigate. The study proceeds on the assumption that sports play an important role in promoting in national interest in Africa. However, to date the evidence available indicates that African countries have not fully exploited sports to achieve their interest and to build their political power and influence globally. With emergence of new issues and actors in 21st century international, the complexity of global environment of advancing national interest requires factoring in sports. In particular sports can and has been a useful tool of diplomacy that if well utilized can contribute to national prestige and image building of states. It is for this reason therefore that this study examines and analyses the extent to which sports has been used as soft power in Africa. It will be used to provide data on the role of sports in contributing to tangible outcomes in advancing national interest.
The specific question is: What is the role of sports diplomacy in Africa and in the advancing of national interests?
Sports diplomacy can be utilized to advance Africa’s interests as a region.
Sports diplomacy can attain Cameroon’s national interest in foreign relations
Sports can positively influence Cameroon’s foreign economic relations.
How can sports be better utilized as a tool of diplomacy in Africa?
How can sports diplomacy be used to attain Cameroon’s national interest in foreign relations?
What role does sports play in Cameroon’s foreign economic relations?
The main objective is to establish the role of sport s diplomacy in the pursuit of Africa’s and Cameroon’s national interest in particular.
- To examine and analyze the role of sports diplomacy in advancing Africa’s regional interests.
- To establish and analyze the role of sports diplomacy in attaining Cameroon’s national interests in foreign relations.
- To establish and analyze the role of sports in Cameroon’s foreign economic relations
FURTHER READING: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS PROJECR TOPICS WITH MATERIALS