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Dhaka Tribune

Football diplomacy for the win

Bangladesh can strengthen bilateral relations with Argentina as well as Brazil through football

Update : 26 Dec 2022, 11:54 PM

The last couple of weeks were all about football that sparked enthusiasm among sports-loving countries all over the world. The “Greatest Show on Earth” fever had undoubtedly cut through the minds of people. On December 18th, Argentina played the final match of the Qatar World Cup; after a breath-taking game viewed by 4 billion people, Lionel Messi got to lift the World Cup trophy for Argentina. 

Meanwhile in Bangladesh, diametrically opposite to Argentina on the globe, fans celebrated a new star in the Argentine logo by marching along with peer supporters, wearing Argentina's jerseys and waving flags with sheer excitement.

It sounds surprising but a large number of football lovers in Bangladesh are Argentina fans. Maradona's magical performance in the 1986 World Cup and his single-handedly leading Argentina to victory created obsessive passion among Bangladeshi football fans. Support for Argentina has been increasing at every World Cup since then. 

Decades later, Messi became the true successor to carry the legacy of Maradona. As a result, football fans in Bangladesh continued cheering for this Latin American country in every possible way.

Thanks to Facebook-Twitter-YouTube, the popularity of Argentine football in Bangladesh has come to the attention of the world, especially Argentines. Such an amount of devotion did not go unnoticed. The Argentina Football Association thanked the Bangladeshis on their verified Twitter and Facebook pages. The Argentine coach, Lionel Scaloni, also tweeted for Bangladesh and thanked the Bengali people for their love and support.

Now Argentines, after seeing such enormous affection from the Bengalis, want to show their love too. The Argentines are supporting Bangladesh in cricket, a game they barely know about. Some are asking where they could find Bangladeshi flags and jerseys. The consequence of this mutual relationship has created a scope where many Argentines are sharing information about Bangladesh. 

By utilizing this human bond, both countries have created an opportunity to exchange products and knowledge in economic-social-cultural-diplomatic fields.

Both Argentina and Bangladesh have now agreed to further strengthen and improve commercial and business ties. Besides the suggestions for the tourism industry, Bangladesh's RMG industry exporting to Latin American countries can facilitate economic convenience. If the young generation of football-loving Argentina can be encouraged to use our products, Argentina with a population of four and a half million can be a major market for Bangladesh.

The agricultural sector, in particular, has a big role to play in finding such a scope that harmonizes the two countries' landscapes and environments. Argentina exported $876 million worth of soybeans, soybean oil, wheat, and corn products to Bangladesh in 2021, up from $450m in 2020. 

On the other hand, Bangladesh exported only $17.5m worth of knitwear, non-knitwear, and textile footwear products to Argentina in 2020. The extent of Bangladesh's trade deficit with Argentina is easy to imagine. This deficiency can be filled by increasing inter-trade and mutual communication between the two countries. 

Although Bangladesh has a consulate office in Buenos Aires, Argentina does not have an embassy in Dhaka. Argentina was “actively considering” the possibility of opening an embassy in Bangladesh because of significant economic opportunities. The massive support of Bangladeshis towards Argentina is being seriously considered by the Argentine government. 

If the embassy of Argentina is established in Dhaka, the diplomatic relations between Bangladesh and Argentina will be deepened.

Along with Argentina, Bangladesh also has a large number of Brazilian fans. Thousands of Bangladeshi fans of Brazil's football team cheered and blared vuvuzelas during the tournament. Brazil, the largest economy in South America, is also the fifth largest country in the world. Famous for coffee production, Brazil is also the fourth largest cotton producer and second top exporter while Bangladesh is the second largest cotton importer in the world. Bangladesh and Brazil have many things in common, but the volume of trade between the two countries should be increased.

There can be deep friendship between the two countries; cooperation in economic, diplomatic, and cultural avenues. Recently Bangladesh and Brazil have signed a visa exemption agreement to mark 50 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries. During the last 25 years, the exports of Brazil to Bangladesh have increased at an annualized rate of 11.1%, from $110m in 1995 to $1.53bn in 2020. 

In 2020, Bangladesh exported goods valued at $132m to Brazil. The main products that Bangladesh exported to Brazil were mostly RMG products -- jerseys, pullovers, cardigans, waistcoats, shirts and suits, jackets, blazers, trousers, breeches and shorts. 

For Bangladesh, bilateral relations can be strengthened with Argentina as well as Brazil through football. Bangladesh can start football diplomacy with these countries. Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said that players from Bangladesh will be sent for training in some countries including Argentina and Brazil. 

An opportunity has come to take the initiative to use both Argentina and Brazil in the development of football in Bangladesh. Bringing the entire Argentina team including Messi to Bangladesh can be the spark. Similarly, Bangladesh can use the experience to popularize cricket in Latin America. 

From football to friendship, association among the countries' trade and policy levels are strengthening as Bangladesh is making its entrance to Latin America. Football is not just a form of entertainment but a global cultural phenomenon that can bring people closer to each other. 

It is hoped that Bangladesh and these two large South American countries can be business and strategic allies in which mutual interests can develop a long-term partnership. 

Also, the Argentina-Bangladesh relationship can be an excellent example of cultural and diplomatic exchanges between people from two distant continents. This also proves that friendship knows no distance as football connects us all.

soybean oil, wheat, and corn products to Bangladesh in 2021, up from $450 million in 2020. 

On the other hand, Bangladesh exported only $17.5m worth of knitwear, non-knitwear, and textile footwear products to Argentina in 2020. The extent of Bangladesh's trade deficit with Argentina is easy to imagine. This deficiency can be filled by increasing inter-trade and mutual communication between the two countries. 

Although Bangladesh has a consulate office in Buenos Aires, Argentina does not have an embassy in Dhaka. Argentina was “actively considering” the possibility of opening an embassy in Bangladesh because of significant economic opportunities. The massive support of Bangladeshis towards Argentina is being seriously considered by the Argentine government. 

If the embassy of Argentina is established in Dhaka, the diplomatic relations between Bangladesh and Argentina will be deepened.

Along with Argentina, Bangladesh also has a large number of Brazilian fans. Thousands of Bangladeshi fans of Brazil's football team cheered and blared vuvuzelas during the tournament. Brazil, the largest economy in South America, is also the fifth largest country in the world. Famous for coffee production, Brazil is also the fourth largest cotton producer and second top exporter while Bangladesh is the second largest cotton importer in the world. Bangladesh and Brazil have many things in common, but the volume of trade between the two countries should be increased.

There can be deep friendship between the two countries; cooperation in economic, diplomatic, and cultural avenues. Recently Bangladesh and Brazil have signed a visa exemption agreement to mark 50 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries. During the last 25 years, the exports of Brazil to Bangladesh have increased at an annualized rate of 11.1%, from $110m in 1995 to $1.53bn in 2020. 

In 2020, Bangladesh exported goods valued at $132m to Brazil. The main products that Bangladesh exported to Brazil were mostly RMG products -- jerseys, pullovers, cardigans, waistcoats, shirts and suits, jackets, blazers, trousers, breeches and shorts. 

For Bangladesh, bilateral relations can be strengthened with Argentina as well as Brazil through football. Bangladesh can start football diplomacy with these countries. Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said that players from Bangladesh will be sent for training in some countries including Argentina and Brazil. 

An opportunity has come to take the initiative to use both Argentina and Brazil in the development of football in Bangladesh. Bringing the entire Argentina team including Messi to Bangladesh can be the spark. Similarly, Bangladesh can use the experience to popularize cricket in Latin America. 

From football to friendship, association among the countries' trade and policy levels are strengthening as Bangladesh is making its entrance to Latin America. Football is not just a form of entertainment but a global cultural phenomenon that can bring people closer to each other. 

It is hoped that Bangladesh and these two large South American countries can be business and strategic allies in which mutual interests can develop a long-term partnership. 

Also, the Argentina-Bangladesh relationship can be an excellent example of cultural and diplomatic exchanges between people from two distant continents. This also proves that friendship knows no distance as football connects us all.

Akib Rahman Shanto is a freelance contributor and Post-graduate student of International Relations.

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