Like millions of others, this afternoon, I watched the US narrowly lose, in extra time, to Ghana. I watched in a packed restaurant in Palo Alto, California, and when time expired, everyone applauded. We lost, but our team played well throughout the games, and made us all proud.
Afterward, a friend called me with an idea. Since he was watching from home, he could actually hear the announcers. The announcers explained that the government of Ghana had sent 1,000 fans to the World Cup, but had to send them home already. Ghana is a poor country. Travel to the games is expensive, with travel, visas, and hotels. But the government raised some funds from corporate and other sponsorships, as well as tax dollars, to send some of their citizens to the games. In the end, the Ghana government’s budget could only afford to send the fans for the first round.
Ghana’s team, however, continued past that first round. And now it will play next week, July 2, in the Quarter Finals, as the last African country standing, and the third African team to make it to the Quarter Finals ever.
And I bet they earned the respect of the American audience during their US game today. But their fans still had to go home.
So why not pitch in, my friend asked? His idea: Americans should set up a way–through a simple text message or a website–to send over a few dollars to help send Ghana fans to the Quarter Finals. Sure, for good public relations, some corporations could pitch in.
But this strikes me as the perfect opportunity to engage in some “people-to-people” diplomacy, as the US State Department has called it, or even “fan-to-fan” diplomacy. Considering the world’s craze for the World Cup, there is perhaps no better way to win “the hearts and minds” of soccer fans around the world than for American fans, as individuals, to contribute to sending fellow fans to cheer their own team.
After the Ghana-US game, this fan-to-fan diplomacy would reflect a kind of nobility among opponents–like when, during the Third Crusade, Saladin sent his opponent Richard the Lion-Hearted two replacement-horses in battle during; or when, in the Princess Bride, Inigo Montoya delayed his duel with Westley so he could catch his breath after climbing a cliff; or when, in Pulp Fiction, Bruce Willis couldn’t leave his opponent Marsellus in anguish and had to go back downstairs with a katana blade to save him.
Like that. But on a global scale.
If someone has a link or a way to do this, include it in the comments, and I will update.