Some U.S. sports groups, with the encouragement and sometimes the financial aid of the State Department, are expanding efforts to use sports to enhance American prestige in Third World nations.

Although sports served as an icebreaker between the U.S. and such countries as Cuba, East Germany and China, a sports cold war continues over the Third World.

Last year, for instance, the State Department's international athletics office spent $216,302, of which $75,000 went to the office of Robert O. Jones, director of international sports programs in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Additionally, the State Department spent about $100,000 for sports trips that funneled to tax-exempt private international sports organizations such as the Washington-based American Council on International Sports and Partners of the Americans.

China, meanwhile, has spent (or will spend) millions of dollars to build stadiums and sports complexes in Somalia, Chad, Zaire, Pakistan, Tanzania and Sierra Leone.

East Germany's famed College of Physical Culture in Leipzig sets aside 25 per cent of its annual enrollment for free five-year scholarships for foreign students, drawing heavily from Africa.

The sports head of the Soviet Union has said the Soviets sent out 7,000 coaches and technicians in 1975 to assist Third World nations. East Germany between 1970-74, had exchanges with 72,78 athletes from 66 countries, and Cuba, in 1974, sent 210 athletes to 46 different countries.

"They're showing us how to do it (influence nations through sports).They're well aware of the power of sports," said Jones.

While the U.S. does not officially send as many coaches and physical education teachers abroad as communist countries do, Jones said there are probably several hundred private exchanges annually in which American teams or individual set up their own itinerary and programs.

The department sometimes asks Americans on private trips abroad to make stops in other countries. This is usually done as their own expense, although the host city or nation may pay for lodging and meals.

This summer, for example, 80 American coaches and athletes will conduct clinics in Latin America as part of the Partner's program. They will be guests of the host jurisdiction, but transportation will be paid by a number of American States and through a State Department grant of $50,000 to the partners.

Alan Rubin, president of partners, said no financial date was available on the cost of this summer's exchange program in which U.S. coaches will teach basketball, track, swimming, tennis, gymnastics and other sports in South America. At the same time, 12 American coaches will get instruction on improving their soccer programs from Brazilians.

In its one year of existence, ACIS has financed such projects as:

A four-day clinic in Teheran, Iran, conducted by four top U.S. physical education specialists for 100 Iranian colleagues on the development of a lifelong sports program emphasizing basic skills and using common, inexpensive materials such as ropes, sticks, balls and coat hangers.

The Iranian teachers, in turn, were to fan out around the country and teach what they had just learned to other teachers. The costs $10,000 for transportation.

Sending Quinn Bucker, captain of the 1976 U.S. Olympic basketball team and now with the Milwaukee Bucks, and David Thompson and Monte Towe of the Denver Nuggets, to conduct clinics in Liberia, Guinea and Kenya for three weeks. Cost: $2,044 for transportation.

Making an emergency grant of $500 to help send a Potomac Valley AAU all-star wrestling team to Poland for training and competition. The Polish Wrestling Federation canceled plans for a dual meet, but the American high schoolers picked up skills in both freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling.

Providing $657 for air fare for the Bulgarian Olympic basketball team to fly from Winooski Vt., where there was no pre-Olympic competition to Buffalo. The grant provided for reciprocity. The Bulgarians are to help the U.S. Improve in one of its weaker sports, such as weight-lifting, [TEXT OMITTED FROM SOURCE] when requested field $1,000 to help with a track training camp that he and then-Redskin Bryant Salter were conducting in Ethiopia. During the five-week camp, 52 athletes from 10 African states participated and 38 qualified for the Olympics.

Sending 40 blind children to Toronto for a special Olympics for the Physically Disabled on a $3,000 grant.

Sponsoring an archery instructors' course for eight foreign Olympic coaches at $1,500.

ACIS, founded by a $35,000 grant from the State Department has to match State Department money its own funding from contributions. The organization provided nonfinancial assistance such as advising foreign countries which coaches might be available to teach a certain clinic, or arranging for private businesses to send sports equipments to other countries.

Headquartered at George Washington University. ACIS has a paid staff of two, with combined salaries of $25,200.

ACIS, which received another $18,000 grant from Jones' office late last year, was the idea of Mortimer M. Caplin, an attorney who was Internal Revenue Service commissioner under President Kennedy, and Charles Rambo, the State Department's director of communications for the Western Hemisphere.

Caplin said he views sports as a "vehicle for communication between the United States and the rest of the world. We can promote American ideals and philosophy through sports. . .

"We (the U.S.) spend billions of dollars in foreign aid. Why do we do this? To build international goodwill and make friends. Sports in such a cheap way to do this. It builds up a sense of understanding and a sense of gratitude."

"You're talking about 'cultural imperialism.'" Sometimes that accusation is made. But by and large, it doesn't make much difference," said Jones.

He recalled the time while serving as a Foreign Service officer he taught course on American political institutions at the University of Saigon. Because teachers are presumed to have some influence in shaping student's thoughts, one pupil accused him of being a CIA agent.

He said he told the pupil, who has raised the subject in class, that he was not with the CIA, but the pupil remained unconvinced.