The World Cup – with a development twist

June 11, 2010

     By Duncan Green     

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

“Jere Longman’s latest uninformed screed, “Don’t Bet on Home Continent in African World Cup.”  As Teju Cole over at Not a Safari summarizes it:

‘… 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.’

But at least there’s the football. Their pick of the best places to keep up with the World Cup from both an African and footie fanatic perspective includes The Guardian’s World Cup coverage, Chimurenga Magazine’s Pilgrimages Project (featuring some of the continent’s best writers), David Lane’s The Other Football, Football is Coming Home, Dundas Football Club, Africa United and Kickoff. Any dispatches from Time’s Tony Karon are also worth the read.

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

Sit back, grab the junk food, and enjoy……

June 11, 2010
Duncan Green