English football enjoys significant support within the city. Club names such as Liverpool and Arsenal are as commonplace in football circles as national glamour clubs Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates. This support has a long history and can be traced back to the late 1800s.

An early version of football was brought to Cape Town by the British colonial military when the first recorded match took place at the Green Point Common in 1862. This colonial link with England possibly accounts for the initial interest in the English game – but why and how has this interest been maintained?


In the days before television English football was publicised through the radio, Movietone newsreels, newspapers, magazines, collecting cards and comics. Movietone newsreels especially captured the imagination of the footballing public. Joe Schaffers, an ex-Aerials player remembers: “We would go to the movie house to watch maybe two minutes of footage of English football and then leave to play our matches. We watched and we learnt.” 

Before the suspension of the Football Association of South Africa (FASA) from FIFA, foreign clubs, including English teams, made regular off-season tours to the country. Clubs such as Tottenham Hotspur, Newcastle, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Arsenal were some of those who came to play here.

FIFA suspended FASA in 1964, making it illegal for overseas clubs and Offsidenational teams to tour South Africa. However, a loophole in the FIFA legislation made it possible for individuals to play in the country without risk of sanction. From 1964 to1980 some of the cream of English talent who were often near the end of their careers graced the playing fields of South Africa, blatantly flaunting the sports moratorium. These opportunities to see English players in action served to maintain a South African interest in English football.


Television was introduced in South Africa in 1976 and as early as 1981 the English Football Association (FA) Challenge Cup was broadcast live from Wembley Stadium. The sports moratorium had deprived the general public of much exposure to international sport. The screening of such a high profile sporting event grabbed the attention of not only the footballing public, but sport lovers at large. It served to maintain a following of the English game and also won over new fans. This coverage was supplemented with periodic broadcasts of match highlights on various television sport programs.

After South African football was unified in 1991 the FIFA ban was lifted and television broadcast of live English games grew. The advent of satellite and pay television has intensified this coverage as the viewing public are increasingly able to access and select from a wide array of channels and broadcasts. This scale of exposure has added to the already extensive fan base.

A large number of the red cards contributed by visitors focussed on issues of community-building.

  • How can we use sport to help rebuild communities after forced removals?
  • Does supporting an English Premier League team damage your local team?
  • Does international football and the World Cup help South Africa, and promote values of tolerance?
  • Insert video clip of ‘Which hat do you wear?’ from Fields of Play exhibition?

    Fan cultures -images of vuvuzelas etc. from FoP?

    Media lounge from Offside?

    Player Profile

    Player Profile


    Here are your thoughts -keep them coming by commenting below!


    5 Responses to “Community”

    1. July 20, 2010 at 9:44 am

      Sport is such a strong force of community and local as well as national unity. But it must be responsibly managed on the world stage. Thank you South Africa, go Bafana Bafana!

    2. 2 Spurs fan
      July 20, 2010 at 9:45 am

      Great exhibit! Go Tottenham Hotspur, working with SOS Children’s charity and South African football teams.

      (more info here:, and here

    3. 3 Hapoel Katamon Fan
      July 20, 2010 at 9:46 am

      As Hapoel Katamon fans, the first football club in Israel owned by its supporters, we try to show an antiracism message in every single game, practice, or community activity. Good luck South Africa!

    4. 4 A South African
      July 20, 2010 at 9:46 am

      ALL South Africans should start supporting South African soccer!!

      -A South African!

    5. 5 Jaimy
      July 20, 2010 at 9:47 am

      Thank you for this thought-provoking and informative exhibit. I, too, want to fight against the injustices caused by racism and work to abolish this irrational thought based on hate. Cheers to unity and love for all people who are all one and the same!

      -Jaimy Stoll, Portland, OR, USA

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