Print version

A Game of Politics? International Sport Organisations and the Role of Sport in International Politics


Recent events such as the exclusion of Russian teams from international competitions following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, as well as the debate on Qatar hosting the 2022 World Cup, have once again reignited the debate over the relationship between sport and politics. From athletes displaying political symbols to states vying to exclude their rivals from major tournaments, the strong connection between sport and politics in the international arena is evident. International Sport Organisations (ISOs) play a central role in connecting the global sport arena and the international system. Larger international organisations (and particularly mega international sports organisations such as the International Olympic Committee and FIFA), despite their claim to neutrality, are important political actors that frequently use their influence and leverage in the international arena. In particular, the significant role played by FIFA in the politics of World Cup bids and its recent involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian issue demonstrates the impossibility of being politically neutral as an ISO.
Keywords: sport and politics; International Sport Organisations; global system; FIFA; World Cup