Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you. Thank you very much. First, I really just want to thank all of our colleagues here today from the Qatar Foundation, from the Ministry of Sports, from Generation Amazing, who are doing such wonderful work. And the spotlight’s on it now because of the World Cup – what’s so wonderful about the work that all of you are doing is that it started well before the World Cup, and it’s going to continue long after the World Cup. I hope that many of you will continue to participate in these programs.
I am a lifelong lover of football – a very mediocre player, but a lover of the sport. And the thing that’s so powerful about it is everywhere that I go in the world, I find other people who love the game. And they love to play it; they love to watch it; they love to argue about it; they love to support a team with all of the joy and heartbreak that that brings. But it’s an incredibly powerful way of bringing people together. And when we see – as some of you talked about – so many of the differences and divisions in the world, it’s just a powerful reminder of what brings us together across geography and across backgrounds, across groups of one kind of another. And it’s just wonderful that all of you are participating in this, not only learning a few new football skills, but also some incredibly powerful life skills that I think are going to stay with you for a long, long time – and especially the friendships, the networks.
One of the things that we do is we engage in what we call sports diplomacy. We use sports as a way of connecting people, connecting people to our country. We just brought Qatari players and coaches to the United States on an exchange program. We’ll have some American players and coaches coming here in just a few weeks’ time. And this too – for us, whenever I go around the world – whatever, again, our differences may be – sports brings us together, unites us, connects us.
So it’s wonderful to see all of you. I hope you get a chance to maybe see a few of the games as well while you’re here, and we’re looking forward to seeing you shine on whatever field it is you choose to play on. So thank you.