African football has not, however, delivered on the promise of the late twentieth century. It has held a ufabet World Cup, but its national teams have not performed any better on the world stage, and are losing ground to the rapid development of Asian football. Its football administrators and politicians have ceded influence in the corridors of power to their richer Asian competitors.
African football on the promise of the late twentieth century
At the same time, the domestic game has been in decline across the continent, haemorrhaging fans and players to the rest of the world. It has not, across the board, fallen as far or as terminally as Liberian football, crushed by a decade of civil war and the devastating Ebola virus, but it can appear in many nations that the football dead outweigh the living. South Africa 2010 offered a few ยูฟ่าเบท clues as to why this should be, but rather than try and gauge the state of the African game from the heart of the global spectacle, we might have done better by leaving the stadium and heading out into the city.
In Kampala, a low, long breeze-block building is rendered in the precise royal blue of a Chelsea shirt, the club’s crest neatly painted on top. Manchester United’s Red Devil, undulating on its corrugated iron canvas, stares back from a lean-to in Nairobi. Sitting amongst thousands in the agonizingly stationary go-slow on Lagos’s Third Mainland Bridge, we can hear every radio tuned to ‘It’s Monday morning and it’s a huuuuuuuge week in football.
Take a closer a look at the battered buses and the taxis and see the pennants, stickers and flags in foreign football colours on their dashboards. Step into a barber’s shack, the key arena for the arbiters of taste and style in Africa’s male urban social networks. Here, hand-painted signs offer the Essien, the Ronaldo and the Pienaar.2 In Nigeria, Star Beer have partnered with five foreign football teams to produce dedicated club packaging and branding on their cans and bottles.
From Lagos’s main roads you can see the crests of Manchester City and Juventus, huge, high and back-lit, hanging over the rubbish dumps, slums and scrapyards that hug the hard shoulder. Above all, just stop and stare and see the football shirts.