This article begins by recognizing the importance of sport in South African history, before turning to South Africa’s vision and strategy, as articulated around and beyond the successful hosting of mega-events, particularly the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the first World Cup to be held on the African continent. The article suggests that mega-events are an important stage and priority of a broader and longer-term strategy of enhancing South Africa’s soft power, prestige and visibility. In this context, sport and mega-events are important foreign policy tools and have greatly benefited South Africa, the African continent and the international relations system. Using South Africa as a case study, this article explores the concept of sports diplomacy — that is, the use of sports as an instrument for furthering foreign policy goals, causes or interests — and argues that it is a significant and a rising source of soft power.
Institute for Cultural Diplomacy‘Sport as Cultural Diplomacy’ in Cultural Diplomacy Outlook Report 2011available online at http://www.culturaldiplomacy.org/culturaldiplomacynews/content/pdf/Cultural_Diplomacy_Outlook_Report_2011_-_08-03.pdf (accessed 22 March 2013).
This ban continued until1992following the end of apartheid in South Africa. For the use of the games as a political tool see online at http://olympics.pthimon.co.uk/politics.htm (accessed 12 March 2013).
South Africa was suspended from FIFA in1961expelled in 1976 and re-entered international football in 1992. For more details see online at http://www.sahistory.org.za/topic/football-south-africa-timeline-1862-2012 (accessed 12 March 2013).
South African GovernmentSouth Africa Yearbook 2010-2011 p. 32.
South African GovernmentSouth Africa Yearbook 2011-2012: International Relations p. 308available online at http://www.gcis.gov.za/sites/default/files/docs/resourcecentre/yearbook/2011/19_International%20Relations.pdf (accessed 8 March 2013).
South African GovernmentSouth Africa Yearbook 2009-2010 p. 478available online at http://www.gcis.gov.za/sites/default/files/docs/resourcecentre/yearbook/2010/Sport%20and%20Recreation.pdf (accessed 15 March 2013).
South African GovernmentSouth Africa Yearbook 2009-2010 p. 322available online at http://www.gcis.gov.za/sites/default/files/docs/resourcecentre/yearbook/2010/International%20Relations.pdf (accessed 15 March 2013).
Joseph S. Nye‘Soft Power and the Beijing Olympics’Real Clear World24 August 2008 available online at http://www.realclearworld.com/articles/2008/08/soft_power_and_beijing_olympic.html (accessed 21 March 2013).
Joseph S. Nye‘Get Smart: Combining Hard and Soft Power’Foreign AffairsJuly/August 2009 available online at http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/65163/joseph-s-nye-jr/get-smart?page=show (accessed 21 March 2013).
Institute for Cultural Diplomacy (ICD)‘Nation Branding: Country-Specific Evaluation’ in Cultural Diplomacy Outlook Report 2011(Berlin: ICD 2011) available online at http://www.culturaldiplomacy.org/culturaldiplomacynews/index.php?en_cd-outlook-2011_chapter-4 (accessed 22 March 2013).
South African GovernmentFact Sheet Government Preparations for the 2010 FIFA World Cup™: 11 June-11 July 2010 p. 2available online at http://www.info.gov.za/issues/world_cup/2010_preparations.pdf (accessed 12 March 2013).
Ashwin Desai and Goolam Vahed‘2010 World Cup: Africa’s Turn or Turning on Africa? A Political Economy of FIFA’s African Adventure’Soccer & Societyvol. 11 nos. 1 and 2 January 2010; also published in LINKS International Journal of Socialist Renewal 2010 available online at http://links.org.au/node/1738 (accessed 23 March 2013).
South African GovernmentSouth Africa Yearbook 2011-2012: Tourism p. 487available online at http://www.gcis.gov.za/sites/default/files/docs/resourcecentre/yearbook/2011/27_Tourism.pdf (accessed 8 March 2013).