Sport plays a significant role in politics and international relations. However, the relationship between soft power and hosting a sports mega-event such as the Olympic Games, or the FIFA world cup is unclear. Most literature that has examined the role of sport in Qatari soft power adheres to the Realist School of international relations theory. It has tended to emphasize the size of the country in understanding what motivates its engagement in sports diplomacy. This paper attempts to move beyond this realist analysis of soft power by drawing on the post-structuralist –interpretive approach and discourse theory. This perspective better accounts for how sports diplomacy is used in different cultural contexts. In arguing that Qatar represents particular cultural and historical traditions, and sports define the country’s distinct political identity, the paper looks at how Qatar has exercised soft power through sports diplomacy and hosting major international sports events. The paper will analyze formal state discourses surrounding Qatar’s decision to host FIFA World Cup 2022, and we discuss how this use of sports diplomacy is helping achieve several Qatari foreign policy goals.
Foreign policyInternational RelationsSportSoft PowerDiscoursePolicies
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