When we hear the phrase ‘International Relations’ we often imagine men in suits at diplomatic discussions negotiating trade deals or the normalization of relations between countries who share a turbulent history, as was seen last week as Bahrain announced it will normalize relations with Israel; following on from the UAE. However, we must look past diplomatic statements to truly see how countries feel about their neighbours; whom they often share a troubled past with. The world of sport offers us a comprehensive view of relations between nations in many different aspects; how sport can lead to the easing of tensions between countries and how bitter rivalries on the pitch are caused by ideological differences in governments.
Italia 90' is one of the best remembered and reminisced world cups not least for its setting in Italy amid a football home nation, culturally significant to Europe and the BBC theme song by Luciano Pavarotti "Nessun Dorma". It would romanticise the tournament like no other, from Gazza's tears, Cameroon's stunning performance, Jacks Army marching to the quarterfinals only to be seen out by Schillaci, a summer wonder, the scrappy semi-final and finals between Germany & The Netherlands then Germany & Argentina. Cruel defeats would mark the romantic memory of this world cup.
As European football leagues start in the coming weekends, one league looks to revamp its reputation and capitalise on the booming football market.
It is 50 years on since the US rapprochement to China where President Richard Nixon met Mao Zedong on an eight day trip in China which began the first stage of relations between the two countries and then in 1979 both countries officially established diplomatic ties. Since that time the US-China relationship has been relatively benign and one that was underpinned by strategic and economic engagement. In those 50 years the US-China relationship has become increasingly interdependent, according to James Kynge of the Financial Times it has been “the most important commercial relationship in history”. In that time US companies have invested billions in China and has been vital in China’s economic growth and poverty alleviation. Since 1980 China has seen its economy grow at breakneck speed at 10% a year and has successfully lifted more than 500 million people out of poverty and increased average per capita incomes from $193 to $8,100 today. China was a country that was once sequestered from the world has now insinuated itself so much into the depths of the global economy that last year it contributed 30% of global economic growth, making China crucial for the overall stability and wellbeing of the global economy. As former Prime Minister of Australia and China Watcher Kevin Ridd once noted “It is like the English Industrial Revolution and the global information revolution combusting simultaneously and compressed into not 300 years, but 30”. Moreover he claims it was the “embodiment of the great global transformation” and one which “the collective west is woefully unprepared for”.
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