White football in South Africa: empire, apartheid and change, 1892-1977

Chris H. Bolsmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This essay traces the development, domination and decline of white football in South Africa. It suggests that white football was more significant and popular than generally acknowledged and was at the forefront of globalizing football in the early twentieth century. In order to better understand the broader history of twentieth-century South African football, a more detailed examination of the organized white game at the national and international levels is necessary. This historical analysis of elite white football draws from the archives of the Football Association of South Africa. The analysis underscores the important role of white football authorities in the contestation of power and identity in the game in South Africa and abroad. In the first period under consideration (1892-1940s), local football authorities challenged the dominant sports within South Africa. This period was followed in the 1950s by the challenges of professionalism and anti-apartheid organizations. In the final phase (1967-77), officials experimented with football on 'multi-national' and multi-racial lines - a failed reform that led to the demise of white football.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-45
Number of pages17
JournalSoccer and society
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2010

Bibliographical note

This is an electronic version of an article published in Bolsmann, Chris H. (2010). White football in South Africa: empire, apartheid and change, 1892-1977. Soccer and Society, 11 (1-2), pp. 29-45. Soccer and Society is available online at: http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/ with the open URL of your article.http://www.informaworld.com/openurl?genre=article&issn=1466-0970&volume=11&issue=1&spage=29


  • white football
  • South Africa
  • globalizing football
  • twentieth-century South African football
  • Football Association of South Africa
  • professionalism
  • anti-apartheid organizations
  • multi-national
  • multi-racial
  • reform


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