Remarks at the U.S.-Algeria Soccer Event

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Algiers, Algeria
April 3, 2014

MR. CHAOUCHE: (In progress) Today is special day. We are pleased and honored to have you here with us. Definitely, this visit will be remembered forever. Thank you again.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very much.

MR. CHAOUCHE: If you want to say something.

SECRETARY KERRY: Oh, thank you. Well, let me thank Mr. Mostefoui and Mr. Chaouche for their very generous welcome. And I want to thank Nike. The events that I’ve been working on over the course of the last days, the diplomacy we’ve been involved in, has prompted me to want to take the Nike motto, “Just Do It” and say to them, “Just Do It.” (Laughter.) But I don’t know if that would have worked so well.

But anyway, it’s a pleasure for me to be here. I want to congratulate team L’Algerie, the Algerian soccer team that qualified for the World Cup. It’s very, very exciting. I understand Pele says that he’s going to watch them very closely, and he thinks they have really good prospects. So as a result of that, we’re going to watch them very closely, too, since we qualified, and it’s going to be very, very interesting.

Let me just say to the kids here – let me come over here for just a sec. I understand you guys speak English, right? Who speaks English? How many of you speak English? One, two – not very many. Vous parlez anglais? Vous parlez francais? Arabique? Vous parlez pas? Vous parlez pas de tout? (Laughter.) Okay.

Well, let me just – can somebody translate to them? All right. Great. I just want to say when I was a kid, I played soccer. We call it soccer, not football.


SECRETARY KERRY: I didn’t know you were going to speak French to them. I thought you were going to speak Arabic to them. But I want you to know that the lessons you learn on the playing field are lessons that will stay with you for all of your life. You learn how to work with other people, you learn teamwork, you learn discipline, you really get a sense of who you are and what you’re capable of. And I want you to know that sometimes sports is a very big part of diplomacy.

And one of the things we learn from sports, whether it’s the Olympics or different events where people are brought together because of diplomacy like years ago, a ping pong match became the early way that the United States and China began to talk to each other again. And in the end, we all learn how whatever country we come from, we have a lot of similarities. There’s a lot of common ground. And that’s a good thing to learn.

Now when I was your age, I would not have wanted to listen to anybody talking to you, especially when I have a soccer ball and I’m dressed to play. So I want to watch you guys play and we’ll have some fun. But I wish you great, good luck, and thank you very much for letting me visit with you today.

(Audio break)

MR. CHAOUCHE: Sir, we want you to go with a message. The project that you see here was a joint (inaudible) Starbucks coffee in Falls Church city in Virginia.

SECRETARY KERRY: Is that right?

MR. CHAOUCHE: Yes. We made it a reality in Algeria. So our vision was shaped by the way that business is done in the U.S. (inaudible). So I want you to go with the message that we want to go (inaudible) U.S. investors, please come and join us in Algeria (inaudible).

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, we’re going to be talking. I’m about to go to a meeting with the prime minister, and later I’ll be meeting with the president. And one of the things we are talking about is how to grow the partnership between the United States and Algeria in the economy. And you’re an example here with this Nike store of the way you create jobs here, but you also create jobs in the United States and it’s a great partnership. It’s also bringing new business practices and entrepreneurship to the country, so we really want to work with you. We’re very proud of what you’re doing here. And Nike is setting an example. You’re getting it done. Thank you.

Maybe you should change the motto from “Just do it” to “Getting it done.” (Laughter.) Well done. Thank you.

MR. CHAOUCHE: Thank you, sir.