African History 7.6 Soccer

To Americans, "football" is a giant, commercial, Gatorade-fueled war metaphor. Pretty much everywhere else in the world, though, it’s a powerful peacemaker.

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World HistoryAfrican History

Transcript

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democratic is because the equipment and playing areas are cheap enough for

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everyone. No court, no rinks, no rackets, no clubs, no pads. All you need to play

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soccer is four posts, a patch of dirt, and two to 22 people who are willing to beat

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each other senseless fighting over an inflatable ball. Around the world, soccer [Crowd of football players run around.]

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gets people going like no other sport. American football fans might get rowdy

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at times, but many soccer stadiums have to physically separate fans to prevent

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bloodshed from breaking out. But for such a violent sport, soccer has actually led to

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peace. Take for example the Mozambican child soldiers who use soccer to help [Children with guns playing football.]

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deal with PTSD... and that's just the start of the good soccer has brought to Africa.

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In 1969, a soccer game including the legendary Pelé in Nigeria led to a

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ceasefire with Igbo rebels. The rebels were like, "screw regional divisions, let's

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go watch game." And, in 2005, peace was achieved in the Ivory Coast after an

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emotional plea by their World Cup- contending soccer team. You know how [Ivory coast players release white doves from their hands.]

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every sports movie has that moment where the team captain gives a big

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inspirational speech and then the team miraculously does better? Well, in 2006, a

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team captain of the Ivory Coast team gave that kind of speech to the whole

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country, and it helped end a civil war. How is this not a movie yet? People [Men throw guns away and hug.]

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at Disney, are you listening? Are you watching? Let's hope this video starts

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a bidding war. Anyway, then there was the World Cup in South Africa in 2010. No,

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it didn't stop a bunch of pointless bloodshed, but it did attract hordes of

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tourists and investors, sparking a boom in development. Soccer also created a

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sense of national pride in many African countries. Those few Americans who [Fan holds up Brazillian flag in stadium crowd.]

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actually care about the game probably know that the USA got spanked by Ghana

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in the last few World Cups. What they might not know is that this spanking was

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the culmination of a half-century of socialist soccer

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policy. Hardline socialists have always seen Ghanian soccer as a nonviolent way to

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develop a sense of national unity and get Ghana out there on the world stage. [Ghana team cheer in the stadium tunnel.]

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Well luckily, those World Cup players don't have stage fright. In a continent

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still struggling with the horrors of the past and present, any good that comes

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from just playing around with a ball is a miracle. We guess our gym teachers might

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have been right about something: sports actually do matter. Though it felt a

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little wrong when they made us run laps for being late. [Boy runs along athletic track.]