A brief history of soccer in Africa

Published on: 14 October 2019

Africa is a big sports-loving continent. Africans love to play, watch, and even bet on basketball, cricket, rugby, and other sports games. But one sport is especially popular - it’s soccer.

Samuel Eto’o, George Weah, Didier Drogba - these are some of the most iconic soccer players from Africa that have made a major influence on global soccer. African soccer is so unique and distinctive that the best Norwegian betting websites, as well as other European ones, are increasingly importing their services in the continent.

With the game being so popular, it is interesting to find out where its roots originate from and who brought the game first in Africa.

Thank European colonialism for African soccer

The roots of the game come from the mid-XIX century with European colonialism. It was the European soldiers, merchants, and Christian missionaries, who brought the game to the African soil. Britain was certainly dominant in this endeavor.

The first-ever documented soccer match played in Africa was in 1862. It’s actually an interesting year because next year, in 1863, the first official soccer rules were enacted.

After that, the game spread very quickly from South African territories to the rest of the continent. The main reason behind it was still the European military forces, railways, and religious schools.

By the 1880s and 1890s, there had already been African soccer teams in Southern parts of the continent. In the Northern parts, the game was popular as well: by the end of the century, the French had already created Algerian soccer clubs. The teams were also created in Egypt.

In 1903, the Cape Coast Excelsior was created in Ghana. It is the oldest African soccer club to survive to this day.

The earlier forms of soccer in Africa were associated with some superstitious activities. They actually had witch doctors that many African teams depended on (some still do). These doctors would conduct various rituals in order to ‘bless’ the teams and increase their chances of winning. Some of these rituals were: cutting the players, sacrificing animals, and placing potions on pieces of equipment.

As a result, the game quickly spread to the coastal parts of Africa. And by the first half of the XX century, soccer was popular across the whole continent.


Main contributions of African soccer to the world

The year 1960 is the most important year in African history. This is the year when the biggest amount of African countries declared independence from their European colonialists.

The emergence of new political subjects was not only influential to world politics but to the world of soccer as well. Previously, the game was overwhelmingly held by the Europeans and South Americans. The official tournaments and championships were exclusively held on these continents.

When the new African countries came to the stage, they fundamentally amended the structure of soccer's governing body, FIFA. Suddenly, there appeared a space for more democratic decision-making.

This can be best demonstrated by the South African Apartheid case. Due to the pressure coming from these new African nations, the South African team was banned for 30 years from participating in international soccer tournaments. Without such pressure, there would hardly ever be any reaction from the European countries (as we’ve witnessed it in the political arena).


Africa is a proud soccer playground

African soccer is one of the most distinctive games in the world. With its famous soccer players like Eto’o, Drogba, etc., the continent has contributed to the world of soccer a great deal.

The history of soccer in Africa has shown us that the continent is not less worthy of the title of soccer originator than, say, South America or Europe. With the oldest teams like Cape Coast Excelsior from the year 1903, the continent clearly deserves this name.