Today, following the U.S. Women’s National Team’s (USWNT) match versus the Netherlands at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Wellington, New Zealand, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and U.S. Soccer President Cindy Cone 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.
Through this formalized partnership, the Department and U.S. Soccer 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 with U.S. Soccer hosting 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.
In addition, 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.
The Secretary and President Cone made the announcement at a local community clinic in Wellington. At the event, a team of young women soccer players of Māori and Pacific Islands descent 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 three-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; Aly Wagner, member of the 2003 and 2007 U.S. Women’s World Cup teams; and Shannon Boxx, a member of the 2015 USWNT FIFA Women’s World Cup championship team.
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.