Place Branding and Public Diplomacy

, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 147–155 | Cite as

Identifying Sports Diplomacy Resources as Soft Power Tools

  • Kambiz Abdi
  • Mahdi TalebpourEmail author
  • Jami Fullerton
  • Mohammad Javad Ranjkesh
  • Hadi Jabbari Nooghabi
Original Article


Although hosting international high-profile sporting events such as the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup are attractive soft power tools for governments to achieve public diplomacy goals, not all sports diplomacy efforts are mega-sporting events. This study explores the use of sports diplomacy by nations and attempts to identify the most applicable sports diplomacy resources available to governments to employ as soft power tools. The data for this research are composed of 30 online surveys completed by international experts in the fields of sports and public diplomacy. The responses were qualitatively analyzed using the fuzzy Delphi method (FDM). After running two rounds of fuzzy Delphi, sports diplomacy resources were classified into three categories: “Sports Events,” “Sports Human Capitals,” and “Sports Products.” Further, “sports players”; “women’s sports”; “hosting/participating in regional, international, continental, or global events”; “coaches”; and “authentic sports leagues” were identified as the most important sports diplomacy resources.


Soft power Public diplomacy Fuzzy Delphi method (FDM) Sports diplomacy 



This research is a part of a doctoral dissertation entitled “The Modeling of Soft Power Implementation throughout Sports Diplomacy,” which was supported by the Iranian Ministry of Science, Research and Technology [June 8, 2015].

Supplementary material

41254_2019_115_MOESM1_ESM.docx (35 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 34 kb)


  1. Abdi, K. 2018. The Modeling of Soft Power Implementation throughout Sport Diplomacy. (Ph.D. Dissertation), Ferdowai University of Mashhad,.Google Scholar
  2. Abdi, K., M. Talebpour, J. Fullerton, M.J. Ranjkesh, and H. Jabbari Nooghabi. 2018. Converting sports diplomacy to diplomatic outcomes: Introducing a sports diplomacy model. International Area Studies Review. Scholar
  3. Alegi, P. 2008. ‘A nation to be reckoned with’: the politics of World Cup stadium construction in Cape Town and Durban, South Africa. African Studies 67 (3): 397–422.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Arning, C. 2013. Soft power, ideology and symbolic manipulation in Summer Olympic Games opening ceremonies: A semiotic analysis. Social Semiotics 23 (4): 523–544. Scholar
  5. Bardecki, M.J. 1984. Participants’ response to the Delphi method: An attitudinal perspective. Technological Forecasting and Social Change 25 (3): 281–292.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Black, J. 2010. A History of Diplomacy. London: Reaktion Books.Google Scholar
  7. Chen, G., J. Chen, X.C.X. Deng, Y. Deng, J. Kurlantzick, Z. Pang, and S. Zhao. 2009. Soft power: China’s emerging strategy in international politics. Lahman: Lexington Books.Google Scholar
  8. DeLay, J.A. 1999. The curveball and the pitch: Sport diplomacy in the age of global media. The Journal of International Institute 7: 1.Google Scholar
  9. Deos, A. 2014. Sport and relational public diplomacy: The case of New Zealand and Rugby World Cup 2011. Sport in Society 17 (9): 1170–1186. Scholar
  10. Freeman, K. 2012. Sport as swaggering: Utilizing sport as soft power. Sport in Society 15 (9): 1260–1274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Fullerton, J., and D. Holtzhausen. 2012. Americans’ attitudes toward South Africa: A study of country reputation and the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Place Branding and Public Diplomacy 8 (4): 269–283.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gilbert, K., and W. Bennett. 2012. Sport, peace, and development. Champaign, IL: Common Ground Pub. LLC.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Grix, J., P.M. Brannagan, and B. Houlihan. 2015. Interrogating states’ soft power strategies: A case study of sports mega-events in Brazil and the UK. Global Society 29 (3): 463–479. Scholar
  14. Grix, J., and D. Lee. 2013. Soft power, sports mega-events and emerging states: The lure of the politics of attraction. Global Society 27 (4): 521–536. Scholar
  15. Henderson, T. Brazil’s Public Diplomacy Policy and the 2014 FIFA World Cup. ISD Glo, 93.Google Scholar
  16. Ishikawa, A., M. Amagasa, T. Shiga, G. Tomizawa, R. Tatsuta, and H. Mieno. 1993. The max-min Delphi method and fuzzy Delphi method via fuzzy integration. Fuzzy Sets and Systems 55 (3): 241–253.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Jackson, S., and S. Haigh. 2008. Between and beyond politics: Sport and foreign policy in a globalizing world. Sport in Society 11 (4): 349–358.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Jarvie, G., S. Murray, and S. Macdonald. 2017. Promoting Scotland, diplomacy and influence through sport. Scottish Affairs 26 (1): 1–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Jones, S. 2014. Sports diplomacy a muscular foreign policy.Google Scholar
  20. Kadir, A. 2017. Korea‘s soft power and public diplomacy (first ed.). Seoul, Korea: Seoul National University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Kobierecki, M.M. 2017. Sports diplomacy of Norway. International Studies. Interdisciplinary Political Cultural Journal 20 (1): 131–146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Laverty, A. 2010. Sports diplomacy and apartheid South Africa.
  23. Masser, I., and P. Foley. 1987. Delphi revisited: Expert opinion in urban analysis. Urban Studies 24 (3): 217–225.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Miller, M.M. 1993. Enhancing regional analysis with the Delphi method. The Review of Regional Studies 23 (2): 191–212.Google Scholar
  25. Murray, S., and G.A. Pigman. 2014. Mapping the relationship between international sport and diplomacy. Sport in Society 17 (9): 1098–1118. Scholar
  26. Nye Jr., J.S. 1990. Bound to lead: The changing nature of American power. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  27. Nye, J. S. 2004. Soft power: The means to success in world politics: Public affairs.Google Scholar
  28. Nygård, H.M., and S. Gates. 2013. Soft power at home and abroad: Sport diplomacy, politics and peace-building. International Area Studies Review 16 (3): 235–243. Scholar
  29. Parente, F.J., J.K. Anderson, P. Myers, and T. O’brien. 1984. An examination of factors contributing to Delphi accuracy. Journal of Forecasting 3 (2): 173–182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Pigman, G.A. 2014. International sport and diplomacy’s public dimension: Governments, sporting federations and the global audience. Diplomacy & Statecraft 25 (1): 94–114. Scholar
  31. Porteux, J., and K.J. Choi. 2018. Hallyu as sports diplomacy and prestige building. Culture and Empathy 1 (1–4): 75–92.Google Scholar
  32. Rezaian, J. 2018. Nike tells Iran’s World Cup team to find other shoes the washington post. Retrieved from
  33. Rofe, J.S. 2016. Sport and diplomacy: A global diplomacy framework. Diplomacy & Statecraft 27 (2): 212–230.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Salazar-Sutil, N. 2008. Maradona Inc. International Journal of Cultural Studies 11 (4): 441–458. Scholar
  35. Seib, P. 2009. Toward a new public diplomacy: Redirecting US foreign policy. New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Tavakolian, H. 2018. A Blueprint of Successful Sports Diplomacy Campaigns. Retrieved from

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Limited 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kambiz Abdi
    • 1
  • Mahdi Talebpour
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jami Fullerton
    • 2
  • Mohammad Javad Ranjkesh
    • 3
  • Hadi Jabbari Nooghabi
    • 4
  1. 1.Faculty of Sport SciencesFerdowsi University of Mashhad (FUM)MashhadIran
  2. 2.Oklahoma State UniversityStillwaterUSA
  3. 3.Department of Politics Science, Faculty of Economics and Administrative SciencesFerdowsi University of Mashhad (FUM)MashhadIran
  4. 4.Department of Statistics, Faculty of MathematicsFerdowsi University of Mashhad (FUM)MashhadIran

Personalised recommendations