Sunday, November 22, 2009

Is sporting success directly related to democratic freedoms?

We saw the success of the Ghana Under 20 very recently. In the same year, Ghana successfully changed governments through elections held last year. President Obama also chose to visit only Ghana much to the chagrin of many an African country. The Ghana senior soccer team was the first team to qualify on the continent for the 2010 soccer world cup showcase.

Take Zimbabwe. After brilliant promises in the 80s and 90s, the country has gradually been sliding the rankings scale over the last ten years. This is also the same time that inflation soared to astronomical levels. The economy tumbled into a see-saw. Take South South Africa. Immeadiately after independence and the new democratic dispensation in 1993, SA went on to win the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations. They also won the Rugby Worl Cup and were very close in cricket. After the Zuma Mbeki debacle, the South African senior team management has taken it as a full time job to hire and fire coaches. Reason? Sliding perfomace and strings of poor results.

Is sporting success directly related to democracy and and good economic management? I say to a very large extent, Yes. How about Nigeria then? For some time, the only good thing that came out of Nigeria was the senior soccer team. And Cameroun? Paul Biya seems to escape international glare. No one notices that he is creeping silently and brutally to three decades in power. Yet the senior Camerounian team has been doing well under the circumstances.

In Africa, however, sporting success is directly influenced by the government of the day. It is the government of the day that puts in place administrators either on merit or on other grounds. It is the government of the day that determines whether to abuse sporting funds or not. It is the government of the day that decides to tear gas fans in a stadium when they parrot opposition slogans or not. Yes, democratic space has a lot of influence on the sporting success of a nation.

This is for you, Comrade Knox.


  1. interesting angle at African democratic experience. Really interesting.

  2. May be and for me. You know that no matter how busy i an i would comment. Okay an with you no this. If governments waste time chasing unnecessary things they lose sight of a lot of issues including sports. I also believe that there's also more to it. Ghana last won the Africa cup of nations in 1982 under military rule. In 2008, under democratic governance, we hosted and lost the Africa cup.