Gooooooaaaaaallllll!: Using Football Politics to Score off the Field Evidence from Across Africa

Hickey, Emily, Foreign Affairs - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Fatton, Robert, Department of Politics, University of Virginia

A key component is missing from the traditional study of African politics: football. As this thesis will reveal, football is not merely an extracurricular sport or a detached societal activity, but an integral avenue to understanding politics in Africa. Football and politics coexist together and are consistently used in similar manners and for similar ends across the continent. This paper explores four unique avenues in which football is diffused into African politics -- as a smokescreen for human rights abuses, as a means of stifling political opposition, as a form of patronage and political promotion, and in pursuit of business or financial interests. The evidence presented shows the centrality of football to politics, suggesting we must move beyond traditional political science and include cultural phenomena such as football for a better understanding of African politics.

MA (Master of Arts)
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