Source: (2008) Peace Prints. South Asian Journal of Peacebuilding. 1(1).

In the unpredictable and uncertain context of local peacebuilding, football may provide a sense of normality and inter-ethnic contact, which could extend beyond broken communication lines. Often ignored and overlooked, possibly due to its simplicity and association with youth, football is a legitimate social force, which in its own way is capable of initiating reconciliation. In Africa, for example, its importance in peacebuilding is well-illustrated when one considers that young people have been the major participants in most wars on the continent, and that the population of Africa has youth as its majority. Its roots as a peace tool may be traced back to the 14th century when Edward II, the King of England, prohibited the game of football after becoming alarmed that the young men were spending more time playing it then practicing archery or other warlike activities. These days, “The Beautiful Game,” is being used as a peace initiative in the ethnically divided areas of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Israel-Palestine, and the Ivory Coast. This paper introduces football’s role in ethnic reconciliation and associates it with the term “interactive conflict regulation,” known as a method toward transforming conflicts based on direct, physical, psychological, and emotional contact between hostile ethnic groups. Other than bringing people together across ethnic boundaries, football can also be used to improve the lives of refugees, help reintegrate former child combatants and provide peace education in conflict zones.(author's abstract)

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