South African Consul (Politics) Etienne Van Straaten

South African Consul (Politics) Etienne Van Straaten

Soccer Diplomacy

Although this fact is often overlooked, sports and politics are intricately intertwined. Politics often manifests itself through sports, and sports have often been used as political propaganda. This is possible because of the ways both national and local identities become associated with sports teams. This is particularly true in the realm of what has become the world’s sport: soccer.

BWB hopes that sending soccer balls around the world can be seen as a diplomatic gesture that encourages trust, friendship, and healing. Throughout history, Wars have started and ended on the basis of a Football (soccer) game. The capacity for this sport to mend international relations has been powerful. Professor Laurent Dubois of Duke University has invited Balls Without Borders to create a link to a website that he and his students have created to study Soccer Politics. His class, World Cup and World Politics investigates the power of the ‘Beautiful Game’ on the World Stage.


    SOCCER POLITICS course with Professor Laurent Dubois

Middle East

Their page on the Middle East explores how football has played a role in Turkish-European relations, shown signs of promise for rebuilding Iraq while evoking memories of the past. It also shows how the game served as a platform for protest of recent Iranian presidential elections. Beyond that, their blogs demonstrates how soccer is creating social change for women in an otherwise paternal environment. (Read more here)


Their page on Africa explores the political and economic effects of soccer on life in Africa, as well as notable accomplishments on the field by African soccer teams. Finally, no analysis of African soccer can be complete without a look forward to the upcoming World Cup in South Africa and beyond. These categories are tools to help us understand the changes that soccer has brought to Africa and the methods it uses to affect this change. (Read more here)

Latin America

Impressions from the game Brasil vs. Haiti

In South America, their Soccer Politics blog highlights how football is so much a part of life that it is often closely intertwined in the greater political and social fabric of each nation. Their website highlights the history of four key South American footballing nations – Brazil, Columbia, Argentina and Uruguay – and explores this fascinating intersection between football and politics in 20th century South America. We hope their website allows you to look at football in South America in a new way, and causes you to think about the role football, or other sports, plays in your own country’s politics.

Balls Without Borders is a registered 501(c)(3) Public Charity Non-Profit Organization helping children in need find a new perspective through sport. Photos and current activity reports will be updated periodically so please check back.