Thursday, December 2, 2010

FIFA Results- Soccer made Soft Power?

Soccer Link

In last weeks reading of Joseph Nye's " Public Diplomacy and Soft Power" and Corman, Tretheway and Goodall's " A 21st Century Model for Communications in the Global War of Ideas" we learned of soft power and the message influence model that the United States clings to. Soft power defined by Nye is " the ability to affect others to obtain the outcome one wants through attraction rather than coercion or payment"(pg2). If this definition is taken at face value then the United States has a long way to go to recover and re-live its glory days gone by, as it loses its second consecutive battle to host the FIFA 2022 World Cup to no other than Qatar.

The reasoning behind the decision was the desire to hold the game for the first time in Eastern Europea which will continue the FIFA organizations goal of expanding the sport worldwide. But where does this blow to ones pride, leave the United States? Well it seems to suggest that the United States conventions of just getting its message across in a "consistent" manner, over and over again till they agree with us, is crying out for a re-evaluation as suggested by Corman, Tretheway and Goodall. The United States can no loner rely on the soft power it gained during the cold war to bail it out now, it seems to have forgotten somewhere after the Berlin Wall fell the importance of maintaining a good image and what the meaning of a message actually constitutes.

Perhaps if the United States took up the Pragmatic Complexity Model and maybe even a few hints from its Arabic neighbors it might learn that a message is a two-way flow of information. In order to win the game whether on the field or in the political arena understanding and reacting to your teammates perception is just as important as keeping an eye on the ball.


  1. After it came out that we had lost the World Cup to Quatar, all of my friends from abroad kept saying how embarassed the United States must be to loose to Quatar, especially since it is an Arabic country. After about 20 times of them asking me how embarrassed I was, I got the feeling that the US public diplomacy image only rests in our minds, not in everyone elses. No one I talked to thought that we "deserved" the bid in the first place, and everyone assumed that Americans thought it was a done deal anyways. Even though we live in a post 9-11 world, in many ways America's self image is still stuck in its glory days. We're like the 30 year old man with a beer belly walking around in his old varsity jacket. I don't think its for lack of trying though, I think that our quest for a new "consistent" PD message to put out there is not over yet.

  2. So true. Why is it that we automatically assume that the World Cup would be better or is more deserved here? Okay, so we still hold the record for the best attended World Cup in 1994, and it will probably be about 130 degrees in Qatar, and…is there gonna be beer?…But my point is, we should be taking these things as lessons that world orders shift all the time, and right now is becoming less centric, not in the sense that American influence is shrinking, relatively, just that people are showing an interest in hearing and seeing different things. And I say great. If Joseph Nye is right, and we do have any soft power in us, the World Cup will make its way back, and people will reconnect with their love for Diana Ross, Happy Hour, and Warner Bros. shorts-wearing cartoon dogs (as in Stryker the mascot).