The featured image is of the Orlando Pirates and the Kaiser Chiefs, two bitter enemies in the South African Premier league who are playing this morning. The Soweto Derby is one of the most legendary and insanely violent matches in the world. There has been multiple times where these two teams have played where at least 40 fans have been killed. This most recently happened in 2001. But that hasn’t stopped the violence as 2 fans were recently killed in 2017. You think Raiders games are bad with the potential of getting stabbed? In the 90s at the Chiefs’ stadium, fans fired fucking missiles at players and other fans in the stands. Of course, we cannot forget the numerous fighting incidents, or the time two fans went onto the field to assault a ref with vuvuzuelas, or the time a fan got mad at a blown call, so he reached for a cop’s gun, resulting in an innocent bystander getting shot and killed, or the time they started ripping the seats out of the other’s stadiums during a match, or the time Pirates player, China Hlongwane, was stabbed infront of a national TV audience. What I’m trying to say is, Eagles and Raiders fans are pussies compared to these ultras. With that said, considering the hatred they have for each other, you would never know that these two teams played a significant role in ending apartheid.
When one thinks about the leaders of the anti-apartheid movement, Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Walter Sisulu, or Steve Biko are the names that likely enter one’s mind. And you would be correct. However, the unsung and unknown hero in combating apartheid was lesser footy.
On Robben Island, the equivalence of South Africa’s Alcatraz, prominent African National Congress (ANC) leaders such as Mandela, (former President) Jacob Zuma, former Defense Minister “Terror” Lekota, Minister of Human Settlements “Tokyo” Sexwale, and Kgalema Motlanthe–who completed President Thabo Mbeki’s second term– were jailed on Robben Island during the apartheid era. According to More than Just Game authors Chuck Knorr and Marvin Close, the two favorite books from the prison library were Karl Marx’s Das Kapital, and Denis Howell’s Soccer Refereeing. By 1967, this lead to the establishment of the Makana Football Association, which was a lesser footy league for Robben Island inmates. This is significant because the members of that league believed that if they could run a lesser footy league in a fair and democratic way under extreme conditions, they could run a country.
Lesser Footy and rebellion were inseparable in Soweto. It was early Soweto miners and farm workers who set up the first teams in opposition to whites-only leagues in the late 19th century. By 1937, the Orlando Pirates were established. Their name and logo was to match the identity they wanted to embrace: Tough and from the streets. A team that will kick the shit out of you on the scoreboard and in the parking lot. After 1948, when the Afrikaner government instilled white supremacy (apartheid) laws, the Orlando Pirates players instantly became political activists because they had the desire to field and play the best teams. Also, the ANC recognized the importance of the Pirates and civic pride. Especially Mandela, whose home was just down the street from the stadium. According to current South Africa FA member, Danny Jordaan, a former student activist and briefly a Pirates player, lesser footy became the platform “to build the struggle against apartheid.”
Once Nelson Mandela and other African National Congress leaders were jailed in 1963, the Afrikaner government began to target soccer. Despite the government’s constant crackdown on lesser footy, soccer’s connection to the anti-apartheid movement endured and played an even more important role against apartheid.
With the ANC being outlawed and blacks not being allowed to gather in large groups (with the exception of lesser footy stadiums), political meetings occurred in the stands at Orlando Stadium. Zuma was a prominent figure who constantly organized political demonstrations at lesser footy matches. So much so, when he returned from exile from Zambia in 1993, his first residence was the home of the Orlando Pirates’ owner. What’s more, proceeds of each match went straight to the ANC. When the Orlando Pirates traveled to other countries for friendlies, almost all the money went to the ANC. For perspective, there were matches in Zambia where over 100,000 people showed up in support of the Orlando Pirates, and the ANC by proxy. Lesser footy even provided a loop hole for fans who could afford to travel with the team: they could move around the country/leave the country with the Pirates, when otherwise they would not have been allowed. Another important occurrence that happened at Orlando stadium was that each game was a job fair. Unemployment was rampant, so one good way to find out about job opportunities was to socialize at such a large gathering.
In 1970, former Orlando Pirates player, Kaiser Motaung returned to South Africa after playing in America. Instead of rejoining the Pirates, Kaiser decided to start a new club in Soweto, known as the Kaiser Chiefs. Unlike the Pirates who embraced the tough street life, the Chiefs wanted to be flamboyant and glamorous. Since lesser footy fans are rational, they accepted Kaiser’s decision of betraying his old team and setting up a new club with a different identity at the same stadium.
The Chiefs did not take long to become a powerhouse and to make an impact in South Africa.
In 1974, embarrassed by not being able to fully ban lesser footy, the Afrikaner government decided to quell black nationalism by having all-white club teams play all-black club teams with the intention of the heavily funded all-white team to crush the severely underfunded all-black team. To make matters worse, the first time this occurred, many black officials conveniently had their passports withheld due to “security concerns”, resulting in them being unable to attend and many players had severe delays to arrive at Rand Stadium. In other words, it’s essentially what the Palestinian national team goes through in their native country by being delayed by the IDF at checkpoints. But I digress. The all-white team won the match 2-0.
In 1975, the Kaiser Chiefs were selected to play the all-white club, Hellenic, the champions of the all-white lesser footy league. Feeling confident with what happened the previous year, and having the champions representing the Afrikaners, the Afrikaner government decided to make the match have two legs, so Hellenic could embarrass the Chiefs (and black nationalism). The first game went as expected, as Hellenic annihilated the Chiefs 4-0. The second game started off as the first, with Hellenic taking a quick 1-0 lead. But then the unthinkable (to the Afrikaners government and white supremacists everywhere) happened: the Chiefs scored. The fans went insane. All South Africans, black or white, were taught that this wasn’t supposed to happen because they were taught black athletes were inferior to whites. Then a miracle happened.
Late in the match, the Kaiser Chiefs were on the counter attack, and after a tackle caused the ball to take a friendly bounce to another Kaiser Chiefs player, the Chiefs scored and won the game. The euphoria and significant rise in black nationalism to combat apartheid after this match cannot be understated. This result was used as a reminder that there was no racial superiority that the Afrikaner government was selling. This match was considered the first win of an African soccer team over a white team.
A year later, after student protesters were barred from rallying at Orlando soccer stadium—they were appalled by the Bantu educational system– Soweto exploded into riots, which lead to the Soweto Uprising (both Pirates and Chiefs players were participants in the uprising). While the death toll ranges from 156-700 black South African casualties (though most seem to think it was around 500), it included Ariel Kgongoane, a prominent player for the Kaiser Chiefs.
The rest of the 70s saw the Orlando Pirates establish a dynasty. During the 80s, lesser footy matches demonstrated that apartheid was near an end because ANC flags, which were still banned, were seen openly in soccer stadiums. It is with no surprise that in 1990, as soon as Nelson Mandela was released from prison, his first public appearance rally was at the stadium of the Kaiser Chiefs. It would be the same soccer stadium that people would last see him in a public appearance, too. In 1991, South Africa’s FA was established. During its initial meeting, it declared that it was “only natural … as the sport of soccer had long led the way into breaking the tight grip of racial oppression.” This is a ballsy statement when you realize that apartheid doesn’t end for another two years.
As for the Pirates and Chiefs, since the South African league formed in 1996, both have won the SA league 4 times each, which is tied for second most titles and they have combined for runner-up 11 times. This is a big match for the Pirates, as they are 5 points out of first place, but have a game in hand. Lets hope nobody gets killed.
To our regularly scheduled programming!
We start off the morning with a DFO Derby!
We have Litre’s Mighty Lesser Footy Jaguars taking on my Red Devils!
Analysis: This has trap game written all over it. Ranieri is a crafty coach who will probably have Mighty Fulham fired up for this match because it will be played at the Cottage. There are some rumoUrs out there that Ole might field a weaker squad–including possibly playing Scotty McTominay– to give the first stringers a rest, as they have PSG this Tuesday. I hope to Fergie that this isn’t the case because United can have sole possession (at least for 24 hours) of 4th place with a win. I rather have United win this match with starters and lose to PSG because there’s no way United can beat PSG. With that said, the last EPL wild card spot is right there for the taking. Take it, damnit!
2-1 United in a game so sloppy, it’s actually entertaining fixture.
Here’s La Liga’s Schedule for today:
The big match today is obviously 2nd place Atletico vs 3rd place Real Madrid. If Atletico wins, they will be 3 points back of Barcelona.
Analysis: These two teams have tied 4 straight matches. Atletico Madrid has just lost once in their past 10 home games against Real. Madrid played midweek while Atletico did not.
The Mattress Makers have fresh legs and home field advantage. They’ll win this game 1-0.
Finally, over in Mexico, we have:
Aside from saying Fuck Camilo, I have nothing to add here as the league has just recently started. So, here’s a bonus Mouth Flies Open question for you to answer: What are the odds that this guy ever gets any from his wife after this tackle? I’m guessing a bajillion to 1.
Family goals! ⚽️☠️😂
(Via: Igrldesign) pic.twitter.com/II8w8dJdvJ
— Futbol Babes (@FutbolBabes) February 8, 2019
Enjoy the games!