One of the biggest global challenges has been attaining peace and security in all continents and nations across the world, and a number of efforts have been made in order to attain this goal through various interventions such as conventions, sanctions, military actions among others.
Despite the decline in interstate war over the past few years, armed conflicts and organised violence remain major threats to people’s lives in most parts of the world.
The United Nations, despite its many constraints, remains the indispensable organization that can bring the world around the table to formulate collective responses to shared challenges.
Even as these challenges grow increasingly complex with a fraught and shift in geopolitical environment, the UN still remains as the universal forum to build consensus and unity in the face of daunting obstacles.
However, in order to deliver on its crucial responsibilities in a fast-moving world, there is need to give more weight in other areas with potential to overcoming these challenges.
It is evident that we can no longer afford to deal with such challenges in an isolated manner or in the conventional diplomatic ways. We rather combine other efforts to take on these challenges together as global citizens.
This is because building peace and transcending local, regional and global conflicts cannot be left entirely in the hands of political leaders.
What is necessary herewith is not only political governance, but to find spaces and platforms that bring people together under a common goal.
One of these is fostering peace through sporting events; already the United Nations recognizes that sport can be used to unite people and build the global peace, and by extension, international relations.
Sport is played in all countries around the world; all regardless of age, gender or race enjoys it. Enjoyment of sporting activities has long been idealized as a way to heal wounds, mend fences, and rise above differences among cultures and nations. Sports like football engage people, release endorphins, and teach important life lessons of unity and teamwork.
As it is said, sport is a universal language that connects people from all nations and backgrounds. A good example is the on-going FIFA world cup in Russia, which is now at homestretch.
Despite less than a quarter of the teams, with France and either England or Croatia, battling it out in the finals, the rest have been eliminated at various stages, a huge number of people continue to find the thrill of the game.
For instance, all African teams being out of the tournament at group stage, we still find the delight to rally support behind the remaining ones, and above all enjoying the matches in equal measure.
This global participation in football, which can be seen in the world cup, plays a major role in creating cohesion. The World Cup has proven itself to be an international platform for cooperation in sports.
FIFA has recognized their role in the ability to unite fans and players and have used their platform to bring social issues into light; a perfect time to reflect on the notion that football can be more than a game, a common language that can be harnessed to change the world for the better.
One of the notable efforts being the no to racism campaign carried out by the world football governing body.
In addition, it is true that the sport is an efficient tool in international politics. In cases where the first diplomatic instruments give no results, the sport can be used as a second diplomatic tool by countries and groups.
A scholar once said, ‘the sport is the most noble of the wars in international platforms because it is a war of peace’. We have seen leaders accompany their teams in Russia, interestingly share podium and shake hands as their teams square it out on the pitch.
The Russian President and the Saudi leader, Croatian and France presidents have all been in attendance.
Even though the value of sport cannot alone resolve all global problems, it can offer a platform to advance peace and international relations.
Consequently, global sporting event like the World Cup have the capacity to fix global inequality, stamp out racism and overcome other impediments to the global peace, and the same demystified to regional and local levels.
The views expressed in this article are of the author.