Peter Alegi discusses the legacy of ‘Africa’s World Cup’ on New Books in Sports

by Phillip Witteveen on September 17, 2013

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Peter Alegi appeared on New Books in Sports to discuss Africa’s World Cup: Critical Reflections on Play, Patriotism, Spectatorship, and Space. Co-edited with Chris Bolsmann, Africa’s World Cup is a collection of essays, travelogues and ethnographies that attempt to get a better grasp of the further-reaching cultural and political implications of the historic 2010 FIFA tournament.

Alegi, who is originally from Rome, drew parallels to the ancient Roman ideology of “bread and circus,”  those things needed to appease the populace, as “the first politicization of sports.” “Politicians all over the African continent  (particularly after independence which for most countries in Africa, came in the early 1960s)  latched onto this idea that you can create a national culture through a national soccer team,” Alegi said. “This, in countries that had just been born, or artificially created in the 1880s by European Powers. They brought together who spoke different languages and who had different histories and identities into newly recreated colonies.”

In South Africa, however, professional soccer seems to be much less stratified. The game, in many ways, is just a game and less a business. “I really enjoy that because it really begins to break down those barriers between the performers and the audience.”

You can listen to the full interview at New Books in Sports, where Alegi, among other topics, addresses the lingering effects and tarnished legacy of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

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