Now famous since the 2010 World Cup began the South African football team are affectionately known as “Bufana Bufana” which translates as “The boys”. Hosting the 2010 FIFA World Cup has thrust South African football back into the limelight, however as with the rest of South African history, things have not been straight forward. South African football was banned from FIFA (International Football) due to the apartheid system in the country, only returning to the World Stage in 1992 after a change of governmental policy regarding race.
South Africa found football through British Soldiers playing the game in the nineteenth century. From the early days of football in South Africa to the end of Apartheid, the national leagues of South Africa were under the “all-white Football Association of South Africa” with separate authorities and leagues for different colours and creeds. Along with Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan, South Africa founded the Confederation of African Football. However when it became clear that South Africa’s constitution was in contrast to FIFA’s anti racially segregated teams policy they were disqualified from competition after failing to comply with a one year deadline to fall into line with FIFA policy. England’s Sir Stanley Rous (FA president and later FIFA president) led a brief re-invitation to World football for South Africa as it was his believe that football itself was suffering as a result of the ban and that the sport could die out in the country, possibly to the point of no return as youngsters were growing up with no exposure to the sport. This brief reintroduction was ended as South Africa were again expelled 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 was coming to an end in South Africa and with it a new multi-racially football team was formed which was approved by FIFA. Their first competitive match was staged คาสิโน against Cameroon on July 7th 1992, their first national match for over two decades. 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 South African’s they failed to qualify from the first group stage of any of these three championships. Despite this they are making a lasting impression on the footballing World through their vibrant 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 arrived in 1996 when they won the African cup of Nations, a tournament that they again hosted. South African football warmed up to hosting the 2010 World Cup through the staging of the 2009 Confederation Games. 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 the World Famous Brazil ended South African hopes.
It is hoped that the 2010 FIFA World Cup provides South African football with the platform to recover from it’s wilderness years and can prosper for the sake of it’s football mad fans.