Culture of Soccer Week 6 (The World Cup: Africa on the World Stage)

For week 6 of the class, our assignments foucsed on the African aspects of World Cup 2010–economic, sporting and political.  The podcast assigned was particuarly interested in terms of the financial and footballing impact of the game in South Africa.

Week 6 Readings:

Alegi and Bolsmann, Africa’s World Cup , pp. 21-30, 42-51, 99-108, 132-147, 159- 167, 189-199, 219-234

AUDIO: Africa Past and Present Podcast, Episode 43, July 2010, “Reflections on Africa’s First World Cup”

Here is my full post for the class blog:

Soccer has a long history in Africa, and the 20th century saw the game move from a local event to a global presence.  Africans who had been colonized used the game as a way to break free of their oppressors and create their own countries and identities (video lecture).   As the game progressed on the continent, players started to leave their native countries for fame and fortune in Europe.  By the beginning of the 21st century, South Africa had been awarded the 2010 World Cup, which despite heavy influence from FIFA and other issues was a month glimpse into a new, unified, and economically viable South Africa (podcast).

Many of the chapters discussed how the hosts, visitors and participating countries interacted with each other and with the tournament.  Uruguay based themselves in Kimberly and this location allowed them to build a team spirit which saw La Celeste make the semifinals (Alegi Bolsmann 132-147).  English fans who attended the tournament found a much different event than the one presented in the media and that matches can be much bigger than the 90 minutes (Alegi Bolsmann 159-167).  For the hosts themselves, Roberts and Bass surveyed Durban before and during the World Cup to examine what impact the competition had on the city (Alegi Bolsmann 42-51).

Craig Waite’s chapter on the development of the game in Ghana was particularly interesting.  The country was a leading light in terms of Africanism and using the game to promote political and sporting interests.  The efforts of Nkrumah and Djan (Alegi Bolsmann 101-106) laid the foundations for future success, particularly at the 2010 World Cup.  What the chapter did not mention was the authoritarian aspect of Nkrumah’s government.  The video lecture for this week briefly mentioned this component, which is an area for further investigation as Waite painted a relatively positive image of Nkrumah’ s reign and its efforts to integrate Ghana into Africa and the rest of the world

Another feature of the chapter that interested me was the role and nationality of the national team coach.  As the team moved from amateur to professional, a full time coach was needed, and Ghana opted for a European, English to be specific, in George Ainsley (Alegi Bolsmann 104).  From there the country continued hiring foreign coaches before sending Ghanaians out to learn the game and return with European methods and techniques (Alegi Bolsmann 105).  Reading about this progression, thoughts turned to the recent US coaches.  Bob Gansler took a group of college and amateur players to Italy in 1990. I was always assumed Gansler was American, but he was born in Hungary and came to the US when he was 10. In high school, he joined the Bavarian Soccer Club, which assisted his transition to US culture (information from Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel interview).  He made five appearances for the Men’s National Tem in the 60’s and progressed through the coaching ranks at the high school and college level before taking the Under 20’s in 1987. He became the National team coach in 1989.

Gansler was replaced by Bora Milutinovic in order to produce a worthy host team for 1994. Bora was from Yugoslavia and played in Europe (Yugoslavia and France) before moving to Mexico.  After a several jobs at club and international level, he was hired as the US coach after leading Costa Rica to the 1990 Second Round and led the team until 1995.

From there the US returned to homegrown talent in Sampson, Arena and Bradley before finally getting the man the USSF had been craving—Jurgen Klinsmann.  Time will tell if the former German international can lead this country to success.

Africa has much to provide the world’s game—players, culture, new locations—and has made steps to join other regions at the table.  It will be fascinating to see what the continent can offer over the next hundred years.

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  1. I’ve really enjoyed your blog posts Austin. I’ll be using your writing as an example for my undergrads to appreciate the many ways blogs can enhance student learning and the online/hybrid course experience.

  2. Appreciate the compliment. Again, the class has super interesting and informative. Looks of areas to research and develop. Thanks again.

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