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  • November 29, 2011 at 11:01 am Nick Hawkins

    Great article, Tom. From a political standpoint, China is winning “hearts and minds” in countries by building token stadiums so that they’re reminded that when there’s a competition between the United States and China, they’re reminded that China is the new sugar daddy.

    In a way, it’s a brilliant tactical move in Africa. Instead of treating Africa like a colonial remanant like Europe and North America does, China is relying on developing sport as a way of greasing the wheels to secure access to resources.

    • November 29, 2011 at 11:24 am Tom Dunmore

      Good points, Nick. And it’s a high-profile political tactic the U.S. obviously cannot match: can you imagine Congress approving funds to build a stadium in Gabon today?

  • November 30, 2011 at 5:09 am Lanterne Rouge

    Brilliantly informative article. I wonder where stadium diplomacy will crop up next? The Taiwan angle does seem fishy although it’s not that different from the Marshall Plan in that that program was an attempt to win hearts and minds in the face of communism in the Fifties. China’s role is nuanced and too much reporting veers towards ‘yellow peril’ territory – so this balanced but necessarily highly sceptical piece is welcome.

  • December 4, 2011 at 3:53 pm Jay Walk

    Wow, I wish I was there when they played Taiwan’s anthem. That would’ve been a sweet moment to watch.

  • December 21, 2011 at 4:41 pm Vinny

    Piggybacking a bit on what Nick and Tom have posted, there’s no way US Foreign policy would ever condone, much less fund a stadium in Gabon e.g…..Unfortunately we’re too insular to see how this plays in world politics. Football is the moving force in all of these dealings and we in the US are indifferent to downright ignorant. Sure, the African and Carib nations are benfitting greatly by this arrangement because they are treated on a level of some-type of mutual repsect. However I question the locals and what little or no imput was put forth into this….Were they just lazy or figure its better to find a way to get their bread buttered?

    Costa Rica of all places–with its traditionally, relative political stability in Central America….which is 100% football mad. I ask how could they sully themselves in the face of their own human and labor rights like this to even build a stadium? I’m sure that the Ticos themselves would have come up with a way to build a stadium worthy of its football and not have depended on the Chinese.

    Until US Foreign Policy changes its tune, everyone else in the world knows who their daddy is.