2014 fifa world cup

Even normally quiet streets were electrified early Monday by Germany’s dramatic 1-0 win of the World Cup in extra time, a victory that symbolized, at least to fans, not just the country’s dominance of Europe, but its global prominence. Car horns and vuvuzelas honked, and fireworks and firecrackers exploded. On the Kurfuerstendamm, the gleaming street of stores and restaurants that was the symbol of West Berlin during the Cold War, cars quickly jammed traffic and fans draped themselves in the black, red and gold of the German flag.

The team that lost this week is trying to beat the other team that lost this week. It's Brazil versus Netherlands -- honestly, I may have that wrong -- and at this point, even Brazilian supermodel Adriana Lima is barely interested. From a geopolitical balance-of-power perspective, does anyone care who comes in third? Is there a war in history where a country took home (at least, what was left of home) the proverbial bronze medal? After President Bush declared Mission Accomplished in the Iraq war, did he announce a run-off between Afghanistan and Iran? 

This week, we learned that enhancing Brazil's national image through soccer has pitfalls and obstacles (thanks, Germany).

An overview of CPD's most popular blogs last month on topics ranging from Iranian soccer diplomacy to Turkey's Armenian initiative.

Brazil World Cup

How Brazil is using the World Cup to achieve nation branding and diplomatic objectives.

Taking a closer look at the opportunities created by the World Cup this year, in Brazil and elsewhere.

Five minutes before the first match of the World Cup, 400 people were packed into the residence of Brazilian Ambassador Mauro Vieira for Thursday’s opening game from São Paulo. Men, women, even babies were transfixed by the 10 huge television screens, afraid to miss one second of the action. In this alternate universe, the gods are bronzed-faced Adonises and everyone bleeds yellow and green. Every four years, diplomatic Washington takes an unofficial sabbatical. Embassies insist that work will continue uninterrupted during the month-long World Cup. Everyone is lying.

As the 2014 FIFA World Cup kicks off to fanfare and protest, we see how soccer and sports diplomacy can improve the image and soft power of Brazil.