Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
December 17, 2022
AMBASSADOR LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD: [In progress.] Well, that’s what brings me.
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: I got the honor of being selected by the White House to head the Presidential Delegation to the finals and receive the handover to North America on – tomorrow. I’m excited to be here and amazed to see – this is really surreal – to see what you all put together here, to show us – to show the world – what the finals are like in Qatar.
QUESTION: Yeah, it’s pretty exciting. Have you been to a World Cup final before?
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: No, this is my first.
QUESTION: Wow. You’re in for a treat – Argentina, France, this is a nice one.
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: And I’m not telling who I’m rooting for. I know the Argentina PR in New York, that’s the ambassador. I know the French ambassador in New York. So, I don’t want –
QUESTION: Well, I was going to ask who’s nicer to you. [Laughter.]
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: No, no. They know. [Laughter.]
QUESTION: Not allowed to say. [Laughter.] Okay so talk to me a little bit about having this type of event – the size of the World Cup – here in Qatar [inaudible].
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Well, I think it opens up Qatar for the world to see this country, to see the amazing things that are taking place here, the development that is taking place. And the fact that a country as small as Qatar can host an event a big as this.
QUESTION: Okay, now you have had a long, successful career as a diplomat –
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: I hope it’s been successful.
QUESTION: Well, I’d like to think so. So, you’ve seen the power of sports and how it impacts countries, people, regions of the world. How is sports diplomacy important in your work? [Inaudible.]
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Just look at the match between Iran and the United States, I witnessed the power of sports that bridged the gap between people. What I saw those two teams do on the field – the empathy and the respect that they showed to each other was amazing. And so, sports diplomacy is diplomacy at its best.
QUESTION: You were once the Ambassador to Liberia and the current president, George Weah, his son, Tim Weah, plays for the U.S. team. He had said that you texted him.
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Yeah, I texted him while they were playing, and his son hit a goal that turned out to be offside. I didn’t quite understand why it’s offside, so I texted him a message saying, “I know you think he’s yours, but he’s ours.”
QUESTION: I love that. See, you’re great at what you do. That’s amazing. So, as you mentioned, there’s a handoff that’s happening between here and to us, since we’re hosting along with Canada and Mexico. I don’t know what that entails. Maybe give us some details on that. But also, what do you think it means for the U.S. to, once again, host a sporting event of this magnitude? [inaudible]
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Well, [inaudible] since ’94, but it is going to be a bigger deal this time around because our team is so strong. Our team really performed beyond anything that we expected this year. So, the expectations are going to be really high next year – not to put pressure on the team – but we’re all waiting and watching and having it actually hosted in the United States, I think, will be a huge symbol to the world.
QUESTION: This is really the first time – I know it happened in 2002 – but for us to partner with Canada and Mexico, when you speak with the ambassadors of those countries, they must feel surreal to have a hand and share some of the spectacle.
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: They are. I know them well in New York, and they are very, very proud to be partnering with us on this. And I am very proud to partner with them on this.
QUESTION: Okay, now, throw this out there, Fox is a proud, proud fan of U.S. Women’s National Team, the reigning champions of the Women’s World Cup. We are also proud that we are going to be showing all U.S. viewers, because we have the rights in Australia and New Zealand next year. So, I wanted to ask if you will come down and join us there as we look to win our third, consecutive Women’s World Cup. It should be pretty awesome and unprecedented.
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: The women’s soccer team is so – they have shown the power of women in sports, so I would love to be there. Who knows where I’m going to be in a year from now, but it would be an honor to be there cheering them on; making sure that they know that we all support them.
QUESTION: You heard the Ambassador. She’ll be our good luck charm in Australia and New Zealand. Thank you for being here.
AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Thank you and go American women’s team.