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2021-06-03 at 19h04

Sport is a highly relevant way of spreading European values

The Portuguese Minister of Education Tiago Brandão Rodrigues gives a speech at the Portuguese Presidency of the European Union conference (photo: PPUE)

Sport "is a highly relevant way of spreading European values", stated the Portuguese Minister of Education Tiago Brandão Rodrigues, adding that its power to change the world "should be levered with a solid strategy, highlighting its role in disseminating the values to society.

The Minister gave the examples of Nelson Mandela calling for South African unity post-Apartheid at the 1995 Rugby World Cup and North and South Korea coming together as one team for the Winter 2018 Olympics, stating that sport can thereby help build a more sustainable and fairer world.

Tiago Brandão Rodrigues was speaking at the conference "Can sport diplomacy contribute to build a stronger Europe in the world", organised by the Portuguese Sport and Youth Institute (IPDJ) under the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Sport diplomacy

"May sport be at the forefront of European diplomacy. We know that sport has as many weapons or more so than other types of diplomacy, such as economic, cultural etc, for it to be more than a sidekick of European diplomacy", he added.

Accordingly, "using as a starting point what sport has given us in the past, we want to look to the future, with a clear strategy for the role sport can play in the EU’s geopolitical positioning", he remarked, referring to its "huge power" in uniting peoples and the need to start a discussion of European action on this level.

"There is in fact a role, an irreplaceable and crucial role for sport diplomacy in building a stronger Europe and strengthening its relations with other countries and continents," he said.

Initiating the discussion

For this reason, "it becomes even more fundamental to discuss how sport can contribute to our foreign policy, helping to promote European interests and values on the global scenario, which needs them".

Sport diplomacy assumes that "players of different areas" work in an interconnected manner, recalling the "Olympic truce" in ancient Greece, which is still a recent concept at European level. It is thereby urgent to foster the debate and build a structure for action.

The Minister concluded by saying that "we cannot forget the 2030 Agenda and the sustainable development goals" and that "the contribution sport can make to develop many of these goals is undeniable".