Soccer and Diplomacy

Fact Sheet
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
June 6, 2011

Drawing on the world’s most widely played sport, the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ SportsUnited Office is spearheading a global initiative that fuses international exchanges and soccer. This initiative builds on Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s vision of “smart power diplomacy” to harness the full range of diplomatic tools at our disposal—in this case international soccer exchanges—to advance United States foreign policy goals and foster greater understanding.

In partnership with U.S. Soccer, SportsUnited has sent 32 Sports Envoys abroad to engage young people in 17 countries on not only the game, but also lessons learned on and off the field. Sports Envoys are current and retired professional U.S. athletes and coaches who travel overseas to conduct clinics, meet with underserved youth, participate in community events, and lead teambuilding exercises.

Soccer diplomacy creates international exchange opportunities for young athletes and their coaches. Participating in the Sports Visitor program, athletes and coaches from 21countries have traveled to the United States to interact with their American counterparts and engage on a host of issues, including: balancing academics and athletics; creating opportunities for athletes with disabilities; and empowering women and girls through sports.

In addition, the Department of State’s soccer diplomacy efforts include Sports Grants. These grants are awarded to public and private organizations within the United States to conduct two-way exchanges.

Past SportsUnited Women’s Soccer Envoys include: Amanda Cromwell, Lorrie Fair, Michelle French, Lauren Gregg, Linda Hamilton, Shannon MacMillan, Cindy Parlow, Tiffany Roberts, Brianna Scurry, and Danielle Slaton.

About the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ SportsUnited Office:

The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ Sports United Office leads the U.S. Department of State’s international exchange efforts to bring the global community together through sports. SportsUnited develops international exchanges designed to help underserved youth discover how success in athletics can help give them the skills they need to pursue success in the classroom and beyond. Through the Sports Envoy, Sports Visitor and Sports Grants programs, SportsUnited works to reach out to young athletes, coaches and administrators worldwide with a message of America’s commitment to international understanding, cultural tolerance and mutual respect.

For more information, please log on to the website of the Department of State’s SportsUnited Office at

PRN: 2011/911