How the popularity of football changes Afirican’s life forever: A study of the impact of the Premier League on the small village ufabet of Bugamba in south-western Uganda in the late 2000s suggests much more than marital relations has changed. The purchase of a satellite dish and a football subscription by one resident of the village led to the creation of a viewing house which proved phenomenally popular.
How the popularity of football changes Afirican’s life forever
Within a few months, the viewing house was the centre of village social life, a significant employer in its own right, while the owners rose significantly up the village’s social pecking order. Over a two-to-three-year period, the villagers’ conceptions of time and space changed too. While before the Ufabet Premier League the basic distinctions were morning-afternoon-night, familiarity with its schedules meant locals began to use clock time.
A quarter to eight meant nothing until it meant a midweek evening kick-off. Similarly, before the arrival of the EPL, the rest of the world was referred to as ยูฟ่าเบท burayeas, which roughly translated as ‘the global domain’. Familiarity with the cosmopolitan make-up of the Premier League meant that villagers – now arguing as to whether a player was a Croat, a Slovene or from the Ukraine – became acquainted with the basic geography of the world.
Priorities shifted too, as dinner dates, previously unbreakable, could be shifted to accommodate the football schedules, so too marriages, baptisms and church services. Gambling, previously unknown in the village, became widespread, as did its malign social consequences. In 2009, the satellite broadcaster GTV went bust, and so too did the owner of the viewing house, who had extensive debts secured against his now football-less business and land. He lost both.
While the Premier League has been busy working North American and East Asian markets, Africa has only recently appeared on their commercial radar. Manchester United were the first to take note, playing Portsmouth in Abuja in 2008. Hordes of ticketless fans stormed the gates ยูฟ่าเบท during the game, while the volleys of tear gas from the police blew back into the stadium. Undeterred, United have been back to Africa twice since, though not as yet to Nigeria.
By contrast, the Premier League is very much on African businesses’ radar. Sunderland were the first club to have their shirt sponsored by an African operation. The oil company Tullow put the slogan ‘Invest in Africa’ on their shirts. The South African bank Bidvest succeeded them, and the club, in a very rare act of reciprocation, has established the league’s strongest practical links with the continent, running coaching clinics and a supported grassroots facility.