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The first men’s football World Cup in Africa, in 2010, provided an opportunity for development sportswriting. As mediator of sport for the people, mass media are well positioned to capitalize upon the development potential of football. This research analyzed development-related World Cup coverage to better understand African perceptions of identity and the role of African media in improving the quality of human life. Using a news database, this research compiled and analyzed stories published in Africa, outside South Africa, during the World Cup. Stories were tested for a World Cup peg and possible development angle and flagged for representations of national or pan-African identity. The research led to three conclusions. First, the World Cup did provide a vehicle for development sportswriting. Second, World Cup development sportswriting fortified national and pan-African identity by representing expressions of pride. Third, World Cup development sportswriting provided a vehicle to demand political accountability and to express vexation at impediments to African development. The research provides an informative context and springboard for further inquiry into the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.


Originally published in 2014 by the Journal of International Communication.