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What The World Cup Means to Africa

Perhaps the World Cup has no greater impact on any other continent than Africa. Many of its countries have unstable governments and economies and the World Cup, in some cases, is the first and only event to bring these nations together. There are four African countries playing in the tournament this year for the first time: Togo, Angola, Ivory Coast and Ghana. The San Francisco Chronicle talks to African studies professors about the importance of the tournament to these struggling nations. Significantly, says Martha Saavedra, associate director of the Center for African Studies at UC Berkeley, after World Cup qualification "there is often a cessation of some of the hostilities and a chance to find peace and rally around the teams. It often results in more than just a temporary pause." Most recently, the Ivory Coast has put the four-year long civil war between the rebel-held north and the government-controlled south on hold. When the team qualified, the Ivory Coast Football Federation was able to persuade the president to restart peace talks. Unfortunately, success at the World Cup has not always promised long-standing prosperity: Senegal, 2002 quarterfinalist, and soccer power Nigeria have seen their success turn to mismanagement and even rioting.

Read the whole story at San Francisco Chronicle »

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