Football and Politics (Part One)

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar December 17, 2018 19:37

Football and Politics (Part One)

By Satish Sekar © Satish Sekar (December 17th 2018)

Politics and football don’t mix. It’s often repeated, but it’s a false mantra. Politics is never far from sport. There was a war over a football match between El Salvador and Honduras and the break-up of Yugoslavia was triggered by another match between Red Star Belgrade and Dynamo Zagreb.

Africa is another case in point – through wars and social projects and a determination to keep the sport accountable to the public who pay for it. FIFA has several members, but one stands out. It is the only Football Association that does not govern the sport in any country. It is in fact an overtly political statement. The Makana FA was established by prisoners of the Apartheid regime in South Africa. It was plainly a form of political resistance to a crime against humanity.

There were no objections from FIFA or anyone else. How was this not politics and football mixing?

And there are even clearer examples. Ghana had a Social Revolution through football – one that reorganised Ghanaian football and turned the Black Stars into the African team of the 1960s. That revolution changed the face of Ghanaian society. It demonstrated that black Africans could run football and do so effectively. If they could do that, they could do so much more in other spheres of life, and did.

The legendary Charles Kumi Gyamfi (see http://www.empowersmag.com/africas-first-great-coach-part-one/ and http://www.empowersmag.com/africas-first-great-coach-part-two/) became the face of that revolution, and did so through achieving goals. Ghana hosted and won under Gyamfi in 1963, and retained their title two years later. Gyamfi was the first to achieve that feat.

And then it all came crashing down for non-football reasons as politics interfered in football in a shameful manner. Gyamfi, then the most successful coach in the history of the competition – it took over four decades to match him being the only coach to retain the trophy – was demoted to assist a fitness trainer who had only just completed his course and had no experience, especially at that level.

And the reason – the 1966 coup in Ghana that sought to destroy all the achievements of Kwame Nkrumah, including the football revolution. The great administrator Ohene Djan had to flee. The administration of football was interfered with by the coup plotters. But where was the condemnation of this blatant political interference in football? The silence was deafening

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar December 17, 2018 19:37