I’m not even a great football fan, but as I settle down for a few weeks as a couch potato, here are some of the more interesting (from a development point of view), things I’ve seen on the World Cup.
Will the coverage end up reinforcing bizarre Western stereotypes of Africa? You bet. This has been really bugging the contributors (and soccer fans) to the ‘Africa is A Country’ blog, who have been collecting some real stinkers – see here and here. But their golden raspberry goes to the New York Times, for
‘… Every available stereotype of Africans (violent, corrupt, disorganized, malnourished, capricious, emotional, and just plain weird) is conveniently included in this story by Jeré Longman in the New York Times. Bonus: A cannibalism allusion from Jürgen Klinsmann.’
To which I would add anything written by my mate John Carlin, who is a winning combination of football obsessive, long-term South Africa expert (he lived there and wrote about it for years, and wrote Playing the Enemy, the book behind the Invictus film – the book’s much better) and a lovely writer. Here’s his curtain raiser in Time magazine.
As an antidote to the hype, Africa is a Country also provides a very different look at the power of sport in Africa – amputee soccer in Liberia
Meanwhile, Oxfam’s redoubtable (and inventive) campaigners manage to link football and aid through the metaphor of ‘keepy uppy’ (everyone send in your personal keepy uppy video). They also unleash an awesome public demonstration by the Ronaldo of keeper-uppers and some suspiciously skilful bystanders