Africa United – How Football Explains Africa

Football is rightfully regarded as the world’s game and is played and loved right across the globe. African people live for football and the continent is increasing its influence on the world of football. The English Premier League has had an influx of African players in recent years, and since Nwankwo Kanu moved to Arsenal in 1999 many more players from Africa have arrived on these shores. 2009 African Footballer of the Year Didier Drogba is one of the stars of Africa, and the Ivorian has been central to Chelsea’s recent success. Now that the World Cup is coming to Africa as well, with the 2010 tournament being hosted by South Africa, the continent is increasing its standing within the world game.

Africa United depicts a portrait of the continent and describes how football explains Africa. Africa is a divided continent in many aspects but it is the game of football that helps to unite it and bring its people together. Whatever African country you visit, whether it is Egypt, Nigeria or the Ivory Coast, children are playing football and their passion for the game is infectious. Africa has been shaped by football, and now the continent is shaping world football itself and is the place where the future of football is being played out.

This insightful book is written Steve Bloomfield, a former Africa Correspondent for The Independent Newspaper. His research led to him travelling across thirteen countries in Africa and meeting players, fans, politicians and rebel leaders. He tells the story of his experiences in each country, and brings all the content together as a whole to form a comprehensive picture of the influence of football on the continent. He shows how football can be equally as disruptive as constructive, helping to prop up an authoritarian regime in Egypt yet provide a small ray of light in war-torn Somalia.

The 2010 World Cup in South Africa is a massive deal for the continent, as millions eyes from around the world will be on Africa for a whole month. Having the greatest show on earth go to Africa can only be a good thing, and this book helps to paint a picture of the social and political backdrop to the global tournament. Bloomfield shows that African people are obsessed by the game and how for ninety minutes nothing else matters outside of football. That’s the great thing about football, it brings people together, and the 2010 World Cup might not only be a defining moment for football, but also for the continent of Africa.