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Conference explores football’s power to drive Asian engagement

Conference explores football’s power to drive Asian engagement
November 22, 2012

The Lowy Institute for International Policy and the Local Organising Committee of AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015 are hosting a conference to explore how football can deepen Australia's relationship with Asia.

The conference, 'Football Diplomacy', being held on Friday 23rd November will look at practical ways that Australia can use the 2015 Asian Cup to promote diplomatic, tourism, business and social engagement with key countries in Asia.

The workshop will build on Football Federation Australia (FFA)'s submission to the Australian Government's 'Australia in the Asian Century White Paper' and the Lowy Institute's 2005 'Football Diplomacy' policy paper.

Federal Minister for Trade and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Asian Century Policy, Craig Emerson will deliver the keynote address while the Conference will also be addressed by Mr Frank Lowy AC, Chairman of Football Federation Australia, the Asian Cup Local Organising Committee and Lowy Institute for International Policy.

AFC Asian Cup Local Organising Committee Chief Executive Michael Brown explains that the Asian Century White Paper acknowledged the power of sport to bridge language and cultural barriers and serve as a platform to build relationships.

Brown states "the White Paper confirms that events like the Asian Cup offer opportunities for Australia to build on our international reputation for delivering major sporting events, and to promote Australian tourism, trade and other interests in Asia.

"The Asian Cup is the pinnacle for the 46 nations of the Asia Football Confederation who represent half the worlds population and some of the most passionate football fans anywhere.

"Asia is the fastest growing football market in the world and the AFC Asian Cup 2015 is expected to reach a television audience of about 2.5 billion people.

"This presents an outstanding opportunity for Australia to strengthen our cultural, social and economic ties with Asia, including some of our most important trading partners.

Anthony Bubalo, West Asia Program Director at the Lowy Institute and author of the Lowy Institute's 2005 Football Diplomacy policy paper, sees the 2015 Asian Cup as a chance to launch a sustained effort to strengthen Australia's engagement with Asia through football.

Bubalo explains "Australia's football engagement with Asia goes far beyond the Asian Cup and will not end in 2015. National teams, A-League and state representative teams make regular visits to China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

"Most importantly, they often travel and play outside capital cities, creating a major opportunity to broaden Australia's engagement in Asia including, for example, in regional China.

"Australia needs to do more to capitalise on the doors football can open and the Football Diplomacy conference will start to explore those opportunities."

The conference will be held at the Lowy Institute's headquarters at 31 Bligh Street, Sydney and will bring together senior political, business, sporting and community figures.

The event will be structured around four interactive sessions on business and investment; tourism; diplomatic relations; and people-to-people contacts.

For more information go to www.lowyinstitute.org/events/football-diplomacy-australias-engagement-asia-through-football 

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