ABSTRACT

The journey that brought football to Africa took several routes, but largely occurred through colonialism. Returning African soldiers who fought in World War II were, at times, associated with ‘importing’ the game that they had learned from European soldiers at the war front. European explorers and missionaries who opened up the continent of Africa for the colonial project of territorial acquisition were also associated with introducing the game as a new recreational and modernizing activity through schools or churches. Today, though, association football has risen to occupy the top position as the leading sport in Africa. While its early development and history as a recreation has both political and cultural dimensions, the game is now so deeply integrated into African society that it is hugely aff ected by developments within the overall social structure, while football has, of course, also served as an important site and contested terrain for broader social transformation.