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Football as a Tool for Peacebuilding.

Cwik, Leszek A.
June 4, 2015

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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