Africa United: Soccer, Passion, Politics, and the First World Cup in Africa
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Africa United is the story of modern day Africa told through its soccer. Travelling across thirteen countries, from Cairo to the Cape, Steve Bloomfield, the former Africa Correspondent for The Independent, meets players and fans, politicians and rebel leaders, discovering the role that soccer has played in shaping the continent. This wide-ranging and incisive book investigates Africa’s love of soccer, its increasing global influence, the build-up to the 2010 World Cup itself and the social and political backdrop to the greatest show on earth.
in truth there was probably little that could have been done if either the Ethiopians or the insurgents had decided to attack it. To run the hotel and protect his guests, Bashir had to employ a small unit of gunmen. Apart from the four who accompanied me, whenever we drove outside the hotel compound there were several others permanently on guard, both inside the grounds of the hotel and outside the gate. There were two other Western journalists staying at the hotel as well as a couple of aid
two sets of fans, with gasoline bombs being thrown and the occasional stabbing, although these days the heavy police presence that I’ve just navigated helps to keep a lid on things. The emotion of the game often gets to the players too. Refereeing the derby has become such a gargantuan task that foreign officials have been drafted in to take control, partly because local referees are open to bribes and partly for their own safety lest they make a decision one set of fans deems to be wrong. I’ve
tonight it’s really raining. Traffic grinds to a halt. Outside Jade Palace parking attendants hustle for business, squeezing cars into small spaces, offering customers umbrellas to shelter them from the downpour. Women in stylish dresses and men in sharp suits race into clubs, splashing their way through puddles. “We have a saying in Lagos,” says Matt. “You can wear Gucci but you still have to step in shit.” There’s a lot of Gucci around and, judging by the smell coming from the gutter, a lot of
broken, he insisted, so it had to be investigated. Knowing Frederic was safe and not wanting our driver, Staff, to get into trouble too, Staff and I left the police station. The officer promised he would call when his investigation was complete, and he and Staff exchanged numbers. An hour later we got a call from the officer. There was another way to sort it out, he explained. That evening I sat in Staff’s car outside Harare Central Police Station. The officer sat in the back. “$200 is okay,”
ran almost all of the major companies, they took the vast majority of senior civil service jobs, and their children went to the best schools. Transforming the country would be an enormous undertaking. The victory in 1996 gave South African soccer a massive boost, and the success continued later that year when Bafana Bafana began their first World Cup qualifying campaign. After beating Malawi home and away, they were drawn against Zambia, Zaire and the Republic of Congo (the smaller Congo to the