African Soccerscapes — 2010

How a Continent Changed the World’s Game

By Peter Alegi

“Nobody understands the background to African soccer better than the Italian-American historian Peter Alegi. This World Cup is his moment. His African Soccerscapes crams daunting erudition, gleaned over many years of study of African football, into under 200 pages of history.”

Financial Times

“Via these outstanding works (Laduma! and African Soccerscapes), Alegi has placed African soccer on firm historiographical footing, while also popularizing a subject about which little was previously known beyond Africa’s borders.”

African Studies Review

“Alegi creatively and effectively uses soccer to tell the story of European domination and exploitation of Africa. Yet, he also shows us how Africans came to embrace the game imposed on them, and made it something distinctly African.”

International Journal of African Historical Studies

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From Accra and Algiers to Zanzibar and Zululand, Africans have wrested control of soccer from the hands of Europeans, and through the rise of different playing styles, the rituals of spectatorship, and the presence of magicians and healers, have turned soccer into a distinctively African activity.

African Soccerscapes explores how Africans adopted soccer for their own reasons and on their own terms. Soccer was a rare form of “national culture” in postcolonial Africa, where stadiums and clubhouses became arenas in which Africans challenged colonial power and expressed a commitment to racial equality and self-determination. New nations staged matches as part of their independence cele­brations and joined the world body, FIFA. The Confédération africaine de football democratized the global game through antiapartheid sanctions and increased the number of African teams in the World Cup finals.

In this compact, highly readable book Alegi shows that the result of this success has been the departure of huge numbers of players to overseas clubs and the growing influence of private commercial interests on the African game. But the growth of women’s soccer and South Africa’s hosting of the 2010 World Cup also challenge the one-dimensional notion of Africa as a backward, “tribal” continent populated by victims of war, corruption, famine, and disease.


Picture of Peter Alegi

Peter Alegi is an associate professor of history at Michigan State University and the author of Laduma! Soccer, Politics, and Society in South Africa. He is an editorial board member of the International Journal of African Historical Studies and book review editor of Soccer and Society.

Table of Contents

  • List of Illustrations
  • Prologue
  • Acknowledgments
  • One: “The White Man’s Burden”
    Football and Empire, 1860s–1919
  • Two: The Africanization of Football, 1920s–1940s
  • Three: Making Nations in Late Colonial Africa, 1940s–1964
  • Four: Nationhood, Pan-Africanism, and Football after Independence
  • Five: Football Migration to Europe since the 1930s
  • Six: The Privatization of Football, 1980s to Recent Times
  • Epilogue: South Africa 2010: The World Cup Comes to Africa
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Series Editors’ Note
  • Index
  • A Choice Significant University Press Title for Undergraduates, 2010–11.
Cover of 'African Soccerscapes'

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