With the World Cup opening ceremony having now finished the politics are now starting to take center stage. There will now be many open and closed door discussions between leaders and their diplomats.
US Secretary of State, Antony J. Blinken kicked things off when he spoke at a diplomatic sporting event earlier today.
First, I really just want to thank all of our colleagues here today from the Qatar Foundation, from the Ministry of Sports, from Generation Amazing, who are doing such wonderful work. And the spotlight’s on it now because of the World Cup – what’s so wonderful about the work that all of you are doing is that it started well before the World Cup, and it’s going to continue long after the World Cup. I hope that many of you will continue to participate in these programs.
I am a lifelong lover of football – a very mediocre player, but a lover of the sport. And the thing that’s so powerful about it is everywhere that I go in the world, I find other people who love the game. And they love to play it; they love to watch it; they love to argue about it; they love to support a team with all of the joy and heartbreak that that brings.
But it’s an incredibly powerful way of bringing people together. And when we see – as some of you talked about – so many of the differences and divisions in the world, it’s just a powerful reminder of what brings us together across geography and across backgrounds, across groups of one kind of another.
And it’s just wonderful that all of you are participating in this, not only learning a few new football skills, but also some incredibly powerful life skills that I think are going to stay with you for a long, long time – and especially the friendships, the networks.
One of the things that we do is we engage in what we call sports diplomacy. We use sports as a way of connecting people, connecting people to our country. We just brought Qatari players and coaches to the United States on an exchange program.
We’ll have some American players and coaches coming here in just a few weeks’ time. And this too – for us, whenever I go around the world – whatever, again, our differences may be – sports brings us together, unites us, connects us.
So it’s wonderful to see all of you. I hope you get a chance to maybe see a few of the games as well while you’re here, and we’re looking forward to seeing you shine on whatever field it is you choose to play on. So thank you.
Speech by Antony J. Blinken.
About the US Secretary of State.
Antony J. Blinken was born in 1971 in New York City. His father, Samuel Blinken, was a lawyer and served as an adviser to President Jimmy Carter. His mother, Judith Sarko, is a Holocaust survivor from Hungary.
Antony Blinken graduated from Harvard College in 1993 with a degree in history and literature. He then attended Columbia Law School, graduating in 1996. After law school, he worked as a clerk for Judge Abner Mikva on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. He then worked as a lawyer in private practice before joining the State Department in 2001.
He served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs from 2009 to 2013. He was then promoted to Deputy National Security Adviser to President Barack Obama from 2013 to 2015.
In 2015, he was named U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. He served in that role until 2017 when he returned to the State Department as Deputy Secretary of State. Antony Blinken was confirmed as Secretary of State by the U.S. Senate on January 26, 2021, by a vote of 78-22.
It’s clear that football has the power to unite people from all corners of the world. Whether you’re a lifelong fan or new to the sport, there’s something about it that brings us all together.
Even though we continue to see many differences across the world and many cutures, it’s more important than ever that World Cup exists to give everyone an opportunity to come together and learn from one another.
Sources: Nouvelles THX, Gouvernement des États-Unis & Wikipédia.