Alum Shepherds World Cup Experience for U.S. Team’s Family and Friends
By Liam Farrell
Photo courtesy of Diplomatic Security Service
On previous trips to the Middle East, politics and history were more top of mind for Rachel Wolf-Hubbard than the 4-4-3 formation and offsides line.
The 2015 University of Maryland graduate from Laurel and casual attendee of some past D.C. United games has found a new appreciation for the beautiful game during this year’s World Cup in Qatar. Now a special agent with the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service, Wolf-Hubbard has spent the past few weeks as a field liaison officer for more than 250 family members and friends of the U.S. Men’s National Team, handling logistics and embassy communications.
“I find myself on the edge of my seat just like they are,” she said.
Wolf-Hubbard was always drawn to the history of ancient Egypt and the Middle East, and while at UMD she studied Arabic and went abroad to Morocco. Her experience in the region was so positive, she enlisted in the foreign service to help other people have similar eye-opening opportunities.
“How do we make it a safe environment for people to be able to go and visit regardless of the security situation at the time?” she said.
After several years as a Middle East and North Africa analyst, Wolf-Hubbard joined the Diplomatic Security Service in 2020. She said it operates much like the U.S. Secret Service, but instead of protecting only heads of state, DSS protects the secretary of state, foreign dignitaries visiting the United States, foreign ministers, former heads of state and members of the British royal family, as well as U.S. citizens, athletes, corporate sponsors and media during major international events like the Olympics, Pan Am Games and World Cup.
The World Cup is her first major international event, and Wolf-Hubbard assists with everything from tracking down lost passports to lost persons. She accompanies the entourage to practices and games, and even joined a desert excursion to have a dinner in Bedouin tents, ride camels and peer through telescopes at the clear night sky.
Tensions from the policy world can bleed into the action on the pitch, however. Americans on the trip have been briefed about relevant geopolitical issues and encouraged to be on their best behavior while cheering for Team USA.
“It’s about keeping the lines of communication open without fearmongering,” she said. “With sports, (political controversies) can get all intermingled. We have done the best job we can just making sure people are cautious of that and sensitive.”
Currently assigned to the DSS New York Field Office, Wolf-Hubbard will soon begin a two-year rotation on the secretary of state’s security detail. She hopes to one day be part of another international sporting event but she is looking forward to her next adventure at DSS.
“I’m super lucky to have the opportunity just to see it,” she said. “The passion that the families have is just very contagious.”
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