A girl riding a bicycle in Saudi Arabia is more than simply a private activity. Vladimir Putin’s Olympic Winter Games in Sochi shortly before the Crimean intervention proclaimed Russia’s new values and the idea that only a strong nation could organize international events of such scale. The corruption charges against FIFA raise the question: has the World Football Federation facilitated a worldwide culture of corruption? And what will happen if millions of Chinese chose to swap their bikes for cars?
Sport has universal appeal that transcends language and cultural barriers. But can it still serve intercultural relations after the charges against FIFA and the International Olympic Committee? Do “European Games” in a country like Azerbaijan with its repressive government even make sense? While recent events in Paris raise the question of mega sport events and terrorism, sport still has the capacity to develop goodwill and to foster international conversations. Sport supports integration and understanding while opening doors that otherwise stay closed in politics. Confl ict resolution, human rights, equality, the fight against racism, the environment—these are just a few areas in which sport plays a role.
Can sport be a strategic instrument in foreign cultural policy? Can global sport still be a role model for civil society and achieve wider development goals? How can the pitfalls of large sport events be avoided and opportunities including nation and continent branding be best used? All these questions and more the Culture Report EUNIC Yearbook will answer.