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South African Football
Now famous since the start of the 2010 World Cup, the South African football team is affectionately known as “Bufana Bufana” which translates to “Boys”. The hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup brought South African football back into the limelight, but as with the rest of South Africa’s history, things were not straightforward. Banned from FIFA (International Football) due to the country’s apartheid system, South African football only returned to the world stage in 1992 following a change in government policy regarding race.
South Africa found football through British soldiers who played the game in the nineteenth century. From the early days of football in South Africa until the end of apartheid, South Africa’s national leagues were under the “all-white Football Association of South Africa”, with separate offices and leagues for different colors and creeds. Along with Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan, South Africa founded the Confederation of African Football. However, when South Africa’s constitution was found to conflict with FIFA’s policy against racially segregated teams, they were expelled from the competition after failing to meet a one-year deadline to comply with FIFA’s policy. England’s Sir Stanley Rous (FA president and later FIFA president) led a brief re-invitation to World Football for South Africa, believing that football itself was suffering as a result of the ban and that the sport might disappear in the country. , perhaps to the point of no return because young people have grown up without the presence of the sport. This brief reintroduction was ended as South Africa were again excluded as a result of the Soweto Uprising in 1976. A decision made at the FIFA Annual Conference held in Tokyo.
In 1991, the apartheid system came to an end in South Africa and with it a new multi-racial football team was created which was sanctioned by FIFA. Their first competitive match came against Cameroon on 7 July 1992, their first national match in over two decades. The South African won the match 1-0, but of course there was a much bigger winner than the result of the game.
South Africa qualified for the World Cup finals in 1998 and 2002 and gained automatic qualification for 2010 as they were the host nation. Unfortunately for the South Africans, they failed to qualify from the first group stage of any of the three championships. Despite this, they make a lasting impression on the footballing world thanks to their live hosting of the tournament (they are the first African nation to host the famous tournament) and the passion of their millions of fans. South Africa’s greatest success at international level came in 1996 when they won the African Cup of Nations, a tournament they hosted again. South African football warmed up to host the 2010 World Cup thanks to the Confederations Games in 2009. This time they qualified from their group with a win over New Zealand, a draw against Iraq and a loss to European champions Spain. A semi-final defeat to world-renowned Brazil ended South Africa’s hopes.
We hope that the 2010 FIFA World Cup will provide a platform for South African football to recover from its years in the wilderness and thrive for the sake of its football-mad fans.
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