Soccer Imposters and African Corruption

I don’t think that you even need to be a soccer fan (I certainly do not consider myself one) to find Brian Phillips’ Slate.com article “Africa’s Soccer Imposters” a fascinating, if not tragic, read.  It strikes as the kind of material that would make for a powerful, if not slightly overdone, genre film of the plights of third world countries.

The basis of the article regards a fake soccer team from Togo playing, and loosing a match, in Bahrain.  What follows is a revelation of corruption, mismanagement, and violence, partially tracing itself back to the Africa Cup of Nations  this past January when the bus carrying the actual Togo soccer team was attacked by gunmen. 

There is more to the whole article though then just a fake team playing a soccer match.  At it’s core it demonstrates the far broader socio-political corruption and failings of organization and management that plagues much of Africa.  It also demonstrates how strong an entity a sport can be, and how, in a place that already has a vast number of social issues facing it, entertainment of something like a sport can become a very political endeavor. 

All and all the article makes us wonder what more there is underneath it all.  We are left with a sense that there is a far more vast and prevelant corruption that plagues soccer in Africa, and that even organizations like FIFA might be rather ambigous to this.  I’d honestly read an entire book on this subject if Mr. Phillips would be interested in writing it.  A sad and strange tale all around.

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~ by Nathaniel on October 5, 2010.

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