The sport of soccer has a funny way of highlighting the political climates of various countries and regions. Of current interest is the Africa Cup of Nations being held in Angola.
While many African nations are rife with political conflict, rampant crime, and corruption; soccer, and specifically international tournaments such as the Cup of Nations or the FIFA World Cup, is supposed to have the power to transcend such problems and bring people of differing viewpoints and beliefs together.
The recently released film Invictus, starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon, shows how influential sport can be in bringing the people of a nation together. South Africa has come a long way since the events depicted in the movie, and this year’s World Cup will be telling in just how much the country has grown over the past 15 years. Will South Africa show itself to be a shining light of African countries, or will problems of crime and poverty take a center stage, either equaling or surpassing the games themselves? Only time will tell.
However, the current situation in Angola is here and now. Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated writes a great piece of journalism highlighting the struggles of nation. “I’ve seen plenty of examples over the years when sports and politics mix, when the world’s most popular pastime and the pursuit of power combine to turn fútbol into anything but the simplest game. But I haven’t ever been in the middle of such a palpably tense situation like this one in [Cabinda, Angola], a complex landscape mixing soccer and politics, fear and violence, nationalism and rebellion.”
This article is a great read, check it out here.