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Global Jul 28, 2023

U.S. Soccer partners with U.S. State Department to foster diplomacy ahead of 2026 World Cup

WELLINGTON, New Zealand – U.S. Soccer President Cindy Parlow Cone and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced a new partnership that will take a two-decade-long collaboration to the next level and elevate soccer as a valued diplomatic tool both at home and abroad.

The announcement was made in Wellington, New Zealand, where the U.S. Women’s National Team is participating in the 2023 FIFA World Cup taking place across New Zealand and Australia. After the USWNT’s 1-1 draw with the Netherlands in their second group match, the Secretary and Cone held a local community soccer clinic with a team of young women soccer players of Māori and Pacific Islands descent. The players participated in a host of soccer drills and a short-sided scrimmage with former members of the USWNT, including Carla Overbeck, the first-ever captain of the USWNT and two-time FIFA Women’s World Cup champion; Julie Foudy, the captain of the 1999 USWNT and FIFA Women’s World Cup champion; Joy Fawcett, member of the 1999 USWNT and FIFA Women’s World Cup champion; and Shannon Boxx, a member of the 2015 USWNT FIFA Women’s World Cup championship team.

Through this formalized partnership, the U.S. Soccer and the State Department will team up to develop, execute, and coordinate a public diplomacy strategy to engage all members of society, including youth, women, and people with physical and intellectual disabilities around the globe. The partnership comes at a time in which U.S. Soccer will host the upcoming 2026 FIFA Men’s World Cup along with Canada and Mexico, and with the Federation bidding to possibly host the 2027 FIFA Women’s World Cup in the United States and Mexico.

“We are really excited to work with the State Department on this partnership. I am the person I am today, the leader I am today due to what sports gave me,” said U.S. Soccer President Cindy Parlow Cone. “Wherever I travel around the world, whether I speak the language or not, everyone in the world speaks the language of soccer. It’s a uniting force and brings people together, and we’re looking forward to doing important work with the State Department and making an impact in places all over the world.”

This initiative will enhance the Department’s ongoing sports diplomacy programming, including the State Department’s Sports Envoy Program, which sends elite American athletes overseas to engage underserved youth. Current players and recent alumni of U.S. Soccer’s National Teams will continue to be part of the Sports Envoy Program on a regular basis. In addition, the sports diplomacy programming will also be enhanced through the Sports Visitor Program, which engages underserved youth athletes in the United States and abroad in an international exchange with their host-country peers and the International Sports Programming Initiative, which supports the technical and leadership development of U.S. and international coaches, administrators, and youth influencers. It will also engage U.S. Soccer in the U.S. Department of State & espnW Global Sports Mentoring Program, which harnesses the power of mentorship to engage rising women leaders in sport.

Through this partnership, the Department and U.S. Soccer aim to use sport to boost shared peace and shared prosperity worldwide, with a focus on increasing educational access, economic equity, and social opportunity and inclusion for underserved groups, including youth, women, and people with physical and intellectual disabilities, in support of broader U.S. foreign policy goals.

U.S. Soccer is one of many professional and amateur sports leagues and organizations that have supported U.S. sports diplomacy efforts.

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