This book offers an accessible overview of the role sport plays in international relations and diplomacy.

Sports diplomacy has previously been defined as an old but under-studied aspect of the estranged relations between peoples, nations and states. These days, it is better understood as the conscious, strategic and ongoing use of sport, sportspeople and sporting events by state and non-state actors to advance policy, trade, development, education, image, reputation, brand, and people-to-people links. In order to better understand the many occasions where sport and diplomacy overlap, this book presents four new, inter-disciplinary and theoretical categories of sports diplomacy: traditional, ‘new’, sport-as-diplomacy, and sports anti-diplomacy. These categories are further validated by a large number of case studies, ranging from the Ancient Olympiad to the recent appearance of esoteric, government sports diplomacy strategies, and beyond, to the activities of non-state sporting actors such as F.C. Barcelona, Colin Kaepernick and the digital world of e-sports. As a result, the landscape of sports diplomacy becomes clearer, as do the pitfalls and limitations of using sport as a diplomatic tool.

This book will be of much interest to students of diplomacy, foreign policy, sports studies, and International Relations in general. 

chapter |14 pages


part I|72 pages

Sport, diplomacy and traditional sports diplomacy

chapter 1|21 pages

A revised anthropology of diplomacy

chapter 2|22 pages

The essence of sport

chapter 3|28 pages

Traditional sports diplomacy

part II|45 pages

Sports diplomacy in the twenty-first century

chapter 4|25 pages

‘New’ sports diplomacy

chapter 5|19 pages

Public and networked sports diplomacy

Theories and limitations

part III|68 pages

Non-state sporting actors and diplomacy

chapter 6|32 pages

The diplomacy of non-state sporting actors


chapter 7|19 pages

Non-state sporting actors


chapter 8|16 pages

Non-state sporting actors

Negotiation, intelligence gathering and dissemination, and the minimisation of friction

part IV|60 pages

The dark side of international sport

chapter 9|20 pages

Sports anti-diplomacy in the state context

chapter 10|27 pages

Sports anti-diplomacy

Brats, neo-emperors, hooligans and terrorists

chapter |12 pages

Extra time

Traditional versus new sports diplomacy