‘Reconciliation through Sports? The case of South Africa’
By Höglund, Kristine and Sundberg, Ralph (In: Third World Quarterly, 29:4, 805 – 818)
Ellis Park, Johannesburg, 1995. The South African Springboks have only moments ago defeated the New Zealand All Blacks in a nerve-wrecking final in the Rugby World Cup, which saw overtime to separate two of the world’s finest rugby squads. Chester Williams, the only black player on the Springbok side, held his own right throughout the game and together with Captain Francois Pienaar and Joel Stransky led the team to a historic victory in the first World Cup to be held since South Africa was readmitted into the international sports arena. The newly elected president, Nelson Mandela, clad in a Springbok jersey, handed Captain Pienaar the trophy in a symbolic event of reconciliation likely to be unmatched in modern day sports: South Africa’s rise and coming together after apartheid.
Southern Johannesburg, 2006. On a mud-stained pitch of grass, next to a run-down school with broken windows, more than a hundred kids have gathered for an organised kick-about, part of the Federation of International Football Association’s (fifa) Play Soccer Initiative. Luciano, who runs the programme, struggles to organise the lively kids into smaller groups. Today’s topics are alcohol and drugs: how to stay out of trouble and away from the gangs. The community the kids come from is impoverished, parental participation is absent and the destructive effects of apartheid eerily lingering. Luciano hopes that a combination of football and life-skills training will serve to raise the community’s youth above the pit of poverty and nascent criminality in the townships and instead create strong individuals, capable of countering the still existing divides within South Africa.
The examples above raise the following questions: can sports serve as a vehicle for reconciliation and integration? If so, how and why? This article analyses South Africa’s experiences to explore the processes through which sports can promote reconciliation in countries that have suffered from conflict and social divides. In order to better understand the determinants of successful pro-reconciliation sport initiatives, it is necessary to identify the different actors, activities and mechanisms through which reconciliation can be achieved. By analysing pro-reconciliation initiatives in South African sports, and linking these processes to theories on reconciliation after conflict, this article adds an important piece to the study of the interlinkages between sport and peace building.
While the positive influence of sport in society has been researched to some extent, this article links sport to reconciliation in countries that have been divided by violent conflict. Four processes through which reconciliation can be promoted are identified and discussed: 1) the utilisation of symbols and symbolic acts of reconciliation; 2) the application of sport policies to create fair representation; 3) the breaking down of stereotypes and negative attitudes through inter-communal sport initiatives; 4) individual development. In this way we move away from a definition of reconciliation, which focuses mainly on truth seeking, forgiveness and justice in the relationship between perpetrators and victims. Instead, we adhere to a definition which incorporates the restructuring of a larger set of relations in societies shattered by violent conflict. From such a perspective reconciliation is understood not only as a process of forgiveness at the political level, but also as integration of separate racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups.
It needs also to be recognised that sport carries a potential for conflict and division. The idea of sport as a peace-promoting device is perhaps most strongly encapsulated in the Olympic movement and the Olympic truce. These ideas have also found expression in the UN Millennium Goals and in programmes by unesco and unicef. In terms of the conflict-inducing aspects of sport, issues such as spectator violence and hooliganism have been analysed. Sport events have also been triggering factors in some international conflicts. An example is the so-called Football War between El Salvador and Honduras in the 1960s. Another is the outbreak of the Yugoslav war in the 1990s, preceded by a club football game in 1990 which turned into a violent, ethnic riot.
South Africa is a particularly interesting case because it has made deliberate efforts to transform the sports sector through national development programmes. The government has explicitly linked sports to development and reconciliation, a stated goal in the 1994 Reconstruction and Development Programme. There have also been initiatives by local and international ngos to build capacity at the community level. Many of these efforts have sought to bring together communities divided during apartheid. The conflict in South Africa over white minority rule was manifested in sports, with racial separateness in domestic sports and boycotts in the international arena. Sport was also used as a platform for resistance by the liberation movements in the struggle against apartheid and the white-dominated state. There has been an impressive amount of research on reconciliation in South Africa, with particular focus on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and on grassroots initiatives. However, there are only a few studies on the role of sport in these processes. This article provides a first overview of such reconciliation attempts in South Africa.
The paper is organised in three parts. First, based on experiences from South Africa, we outline the processes of reconciliation promulgated through sport-related events and initiatives at the national level. In the second section we turn to the community and individual level for similar experiences and initiatives. In the third, concluding part we discuss areas considered important for further research.
Promoting political and national reconciliation
Political reconciliation nearly always takes place at the top level. Such reconciliation efforts entail the acknowledgement of past suffering and can be achieved through events such as public ceremonies of forgiveness, truth commissions, or judicial processes. An important step in a national reconciliation process is to move away from conflict identities to a more inclusive and bridging national identity. Such processes can be set in motion by the introduction of new national symbols. In South Africa, and many other countries undergoing a transition to a more peaceful future, new notes and coins have been introduced, and a new national flag and anthem have been created. The rewriting of history books and the creation of common national myths are also important. Key institutions of society may be transformed to become more representative of the nation, in order for more people to identify with them. Sport is a sector in which such processes may also take place, either on purpose or by coincidence.
Reconciliation through symbols
Symbols can promote reconciliation by representing multiculturalism and unity in spite of diversity. In international competition national symbols and emblems, featuring the colours of the nations, are displayed on team jerseys and the athletes’ clothing. South Africa’s readmittance into the international sports arena provided ample opportunity for the utilisation of sports as an instrument for portraying the political shift of the nation. The new South Africa and its focus on multiculturalism and unity were encapsulated in the reference to South Africa as a Rainbow Nation. Significantly, sport provided opportunities for portraying new symbols of this unity, and for creating new national myths regarding the transformation. For instance, in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics the South African team, consisting of both white athletes and athletes of colour, flew in an aeroplane completely covered by the new national flag, and also saw Nelson Mandela attending the games. This took place before the first democratic elections, and at a time when the negotiations between the anc and the National Party were experiencing a crisis. This being the first time South Africa had taken part in the Olympic games since the 1960s, when international protest had barred it from participation, enhanced the symbolism of this event.
The hosting of high-profile international events can be important moments for symbolic acts, especially if such hosting is combined with success in the competition. The 1995 Rugby World Cup, hosted and won by South Africa, is regarded as a highly symbolic event, depicting the Rainbow Nation. The handshake between team captain Francois Pienaar and President Nelson Mandela—wearing a Springbok jersey—is widely portrayed throughout South African society, even being found in the Apartheid Museum. Rugby has traditionally been seen as a ‘white’ sport in South Africa—although it was also played in the black and coloured communities—thanks to its close links to Afrikaner nationalism and machismo, along with its anti-English connotations. The symbolism of a handshake between the man leading the black revolution and the captain of the bastion of ‘white supremacy’ is obvious.
South Africa also hosted the African Nations Cup of Soccer in 1996. The national team—Bafana Bafana—reaped great victories, bringing the predominantly black sport of football into the limelight of South African sports. The symbolism of this event can be viewed from different perspectives, perhaps the most interesting being the fact that black athletes can succeed just as well as white ones.
One has to be wary of ascribing too much weight to national symbolism as a tool for reconciliation. Sporting events and glorious victories are by their very nature momentary events, coming and going quickly and almost always with vast temporal spaces between them. In addition to this, the integrative and bridging functions of sporting events at the international level are dependent on success. These considerations create a set of interesting questions: what happens in between such events? Is a national identity built on nationalism really reconciliatory?
In between moments of victory, symbolism is likely to evaporate if no real changes in society are perceived. Symbolism, after all, does not denote true transformation. The dependence on victory also means that symbolism is a tool that can only be selectively used, meaning that it is not a viable tool for continuous nation building.
Despite such possible problems with reconciliation through symbolism, the fifa World Cup in 2010, to be hosted by South Africa, presents a set of interesting opportunities for the further integration of a South African identity. The South African Football Association has openly stated that the World Cup will be distinctly ‘African and South African’, and has the potential to fuse the nation closer together both through the hosting process, and the possible success of Bafana Bafana. The World Cup may also invoke more widespread support for the traditionally black sport of football among the white community, which is primarily interested in English Premier League football. If the World Cup is to play an integrative role, it has to have positive effects at the grassroots level, with benefits from this event reaching not only the economically empowered, predominately white community, but also those less fortunate.
Reconciliation through sport policies
The abolishment of apartheid meant the end to segregated sports in South Africa. During apartheid the sport codes had separate controlling boards, one such board for the white population and other boards for the other population groups. Such separate governing bodies, and indeed separate development of sporting communities, had the effect of creating vast divides in terms of athletic quality between white and other groups. These divides quickly became obvious, not least to the anc, at the fall of minority rule. To turn again to the example of the 1995 Rugby World Cup, only one of the players in the South African squad was black, since no other black or coloured players could compete with the skill of the white players. In 2007, when South Africa won the Rugby World Cup in France, only two of the players were not from the white community. The dominance of white rugby players must be ascribed to the discrepancies in the availability of resources and facilities and in access to competition of high international standards.
Discrepancies in terms of quality were also obvious in other popular sports, such as cricket, swimming and cycling. In order to address this inequality, to create a more adequate demographic representation, and to create a pool of recruits that could be used to obtain a ‘true’ South African representation in sports, ‘sport unity’ was launched. Sport unity aimed to create a completely new system, based on unity, equality, empowerment and representation. The term ‘representation’ has risen to the forefront of the transformation of South African sport and is based on the notion that any squad representing, or playing in, South Africa should not misrepresent the general demographics of the country. This does not necessarily mean that an athletics squad sent to the Olympics need be 70% black and 15% white but it does mean that the opposite would not be acceptable.
One political tool used to achieve representation has been the application of quotas. In practice there exist two types of quotas: formal and informal. The formal quotas are easy to comprehend: a set number of players in a squad have to be from a community other than white. Such quotas exist, for example, in rugby, where the teams at the top club level are forced to include black and coloured players in their squads.
Informal quotas are more complicated, instead being based on popular demand, political pressure or unspecific policy documents, such as the Transformation Charter adopted for the Rugby Union in 2002. Transformation charters, which might be viewed as being forced upon the sports codes, outline the changes necessary within their code or geographical area to reach the transformation. In short, such transformation means that squads, administration and management should not misrepresent South African demographics.
Political pressure as an informal quota is visible in rugby at the national level, where there is no set figure of black players to be included in the national squad, but where the political establishment ‘expects’ a number of players (commonly four to six players out of a squad of 22) to be from groups other than white. The seriousness of the application of quotas can be depicted by the fact that the South African field hockey team, which had qualified for the 2000 Olympic Games, was barred from attending because the squad was dominated by whites.
As in other areas, the application of quotas, affirmative action and similar measures to ensure representation, have been controversial and debated policy instruments. For instance, it has been argued that quota systems strengthen group identities rather than common identities. Quotas and affirmative action also promote group interests at the expense of individual rights.
In South Africa the use of quotas has raised questions concerning justice and equal opportunities, and has exacerbated feelings of anc policy being too pro-black and in essence anti-white. While extreme measures may be warranted in the face of structural inequalities in South African sport, this does not diminish the fact that the selection of squads is not based fully on merit. A view that the South African rugby team is not at its best because of ‘quota players’ can be discerned at times. Such views prompt sentiments of discrimination, diminishing the reconciliatory aspects of the process. White, black and coloured players have all expressed their dislike of the quota system, with a number of white cricket players having moved to England to get a ‘fair’ chance to play for a national squad. Some black players in turn resent the system since it brands some of them as being ‘quota players’ in the eyes of the public, or simply because they believe that squad selection should be based fully on merit, as stated by promising young rugby player ‘Chiliboy’ Ralepelle.
In addition, the process of transformation through quotas is not an all-out success, with visible and invisible stumbling blocks still existing, hindering demographic representation from materialising. Some provinces are well integrated, with mixed teams at all levels, while other provinces and codes have not been able to make this leap. The younger age groups in rugby seem to have been fairly successful, with the under 21s teams being more representative than Springbok and professional teams. In cricket a quota at the national level introduced a mandatory four black players in each team after the fall of apartheid, but was abolished in 2002 when the government felt that transformation had been achieved. Informal quotas have, however, surfaced in later years. In many instances, such as in cricket, the formal quotas have in reality only been replaced by informal pressures for black and coloured inclusion, illustrating that a true transformation of attitudes has not taken place. The ethical dilemmas created by these policies are also not easily resolved, and are at odds with the tenets of liberal democracy and the anc‘s charter of supporting unity and equality in the Rainbow Nation.
Sport and social cohesion
In addition to efforts aimed at national reconciliation, there are a number of initiatives for grassroots and mid-level reconciliation that are important for the affected societies. In general such initiatives entail the rebuilding—or creation—of positive interactions between groups that have been divided by conflict. In practical terms such initiatives can take place in several spheres of society: in work places and the economic market, in schools and the education system, etc.
Such reconciliation initiatives seek to promote social cohesion. Apartheid in South Africa tore the social fabric by separating whites, blacks and coloureds into different housing communities. The legacy of these policies still lingers, with socioeconomic divides perpetuating segregation. Thus, the consequences of the violent conflict have carried across generations.
Divides also exist within impoverished communities, caused by the negative effects that harsh living conditions have on social behaviour, meaning that integration is also necessary in the intra-communal sphere. When the conflict over apartheid subsided, new conflicts came to the forefront. Different types of tensions dominate different communities: while some areas are experiencing conflict between coloureds and blacks, gender-based violence and gangsterism are common forms of conflict in other areas.
Participation in sports can serve to break down stereotypes, transform negative attitudes about ‘the others’, and empower communities to create a more homogeneous and less conflict-prone society. The conflict prevention aspects of such integration are obvious: the creation of social cohesion and opportunities for youth through individual development of the self.
Reconciliation through communal initiatives
Reconciliation initiatives can aim to promote social cohesion both between communities (inter-community reconciliation) and within communities (intra-community reconciliation). An increasing number of donor countries has taken an interest in peace building through sport, in particular among the youth. This can take the form of projects working to increase conflict-resolution capacity and integration among the participants. A more direct use of sport can be found in demobilisation and reintegration processes, rehabilitation of child soldiers, and in refugee camps, where the possibilities for constructive leisure time are small and may spur less preferable activities.
Sport can also have indirect and positive side effects on integration, if sporting opportunities are increased more generally. Through tournaments and leagues people have a chance to interact with members of other communities. Everyday social mobility is low in South Africa, and the bulk of inter-communal socialisation takes place in the work place. Sport offers an easy and low-cost interaction opportunity in which the rules of interaction and socialisation are clear.
In South Africa there are various community-based projects working with these issues. The ngo Hoops for Hope uses basketball as a platform to attract youth, with schools being a base for interaction. The organisation focuses its daily activities on the development of life-skills among the participants. It also incorporates an aspect of social integration and reconciliation through games and tournaments between school teams, which are often from communities with different levels of mixed race participants. Basketball is seen as a particularly useful base for integration activities, since it is considered a ‘colourless’ sport: basketball did not ‘belong’ to either of the racial categories during apartheid.
The project Kicking for Peace makes use of football. Teams from a number of townships in the Cape Town area, with both majority black and majority coloured populations, are organised in leagues and tournaments with the aim of activating young people and allowing them to see environments and people that differ from their own community.
Schools are an important base for integration, and most of the youth sport is organised within the education system. Keim has studied integration between the various racial groups both in sport education in schools and in programmes designed with a reconciliation purpose. Her findings support the general notion of sport as making a positive contribution to increased tolerance across racial divides. However, Keim’s study clearly highlights that the integrative function of sport can only occur if certain conditions are in place and points to a number of ‘obstructing’ factors, such as lack of trained instructors and language barriers.
The idea behind these programmes is that it is only through contact between groups that have been, or are, divided that reconciliation and integration can be promoted. Programmes like the ones mentioned above, in Lederach’s words, ‘engage the sides of a conflict with each other as humans-in-relationship’. The breaking down of conflict-prone relationships and the construction of positive ones can serve to end the conflict cycle. These sport programmes also provide for Lederach’s ‘locus’ of reconciliation: a space for reconciliation where all are equal and know the rules of the game.
Social identity theory emphasises the way that humans have a tendency to categorise individuals in their environment into groups that carry social meaning, often based on ascriptive characteristics such as ethnicity, class or religion. Dividing people into different categories creates in-groups and out-groups. Identification lies with one specific group category which is favoured above the others, and where comparisons between groups are made in terms of conflict and not co-operation. During and after violent conflict, such group identities tend to harden, leading to an urgent need for group reconciliation if peace is to become sustainable. Inter- and intra-communal sport initiatives can help to overcome such conflict identities by harmonising group relationships and restoring positive, co-operative interaction and criss-crossing loyalties spanning the in-group/out-group divide. The possibility of creating a new and inclusive social identity also exists.
However, there have been few studies to evaluate the effects of these programmes and how they are best designed to promote reconciliation. In particular, it is difficult to assess the long-term influence and durability of the positive effects observed. There is also a risk that sport programmes can have a negative effect on inter-group relationships. The nature of the encounter between groups across divides is important in this respect. If, for instance, a game of sport turns into a fight or if possessions are stolen in connection with a sporting event, it can confirm stereotypes of the other group’s malevolent character. In South Africa there have been recent examples of race-related violence at rugby games, such as the death of Riaan Loots in a rugby match brawl in mid-2006 that was allegedly brought about by racist provocation. The event was portrayed in the media as being a symbol of lingering racial divides and mistrust. Another barrier, strongly emphasised by Keim, is language. The many languages spoken in South Africa make for problems in communication, and for problems in creating new and inclusive identities.
Reconciliation through individual development
Turning to the question of individual development, reconciliation can be seen as being promoted if people in conflict-torn societies are able to empower themselves. A quote from ex-Bafana Bafana player Brian Sebapole, who runs a youth development programme in Matlosana, is telling: ‘One cannot make peace with others if you are not at peace with yourself’. The focus on sports as a tool for individual development rests mainly on the creation of opportunities for those at risk of marginalisation or of a life in conflict with the rest of society. These types of programmes are usually accompanied by life-skills training, including raising awareness of hiv/aids, gender empowerment, etc.
A number of development programmes use sport as a platform for the strengthening of individuals. Besides locally initiated and run programmes such as the one in Matlosana, international donors have initiated sports programmes for development. The fifa-sponsored Play Soccer project, integrates capacity building in the areas of health and social skills with football practice. Hundreds of young people are involved in these activities at locations in southern Guateng and in Limpopo. An important part of these programmes is the involvement of youths as leaders and coaches, which entails the acquisition of leadership skills.
Besides work by local and international ngos, the government has also been spearheading these kinds of development programmes. Siyadlala (‘Let’s Play’ in Zulu) is a mass participation programme of the Department of Sport and Recreation, with the aim of spreading sport and physical activities to poor communities in South Africa. The programme targets all age groups, but a majority of participants are still in school. Several positive effects of these programmes have been noted in an impact evaluation. It is believed to contribute to the ‘moral regeneration’ of communities and in a few areas crime among youth has reportedly decreased as a result of the programme. There is, however, a general lack of resources, partly attributed to the rapid growth and popularity of Siyadlala, which makes it difficult to sustain the programme.
The creation of sport opportunities is important in segregated and impoverished societies, but has also gained prominence in special situations such as disarmament, demobilisation, and reintegration (ddr) processes, refugee camps and in the wake of disasters. Sport is increasingly used as a non-medical measure to overcome trauma, whether from man-made disasters such as violent conflict, or from natural catastrophes.
In the situation immediately following a war, when many young men and women need to be reinserted into society, sport projects can be directly linked to conflict prevention. An example of such a programme is the National Peace Accord Trust’s football activities in the East Rand. In this locality the organisation arranged football games between ex-combatants from the severe inter-community conflicts that had struck the area. The participants were engaged in pro-reconciliation social interactions before, during and after football games. Similar programmes have been held in countries like Burundi and Liberia, to mention but a few cases. One problem with the demobilisation of child soldiers, visible in Burundi, for example, is the vast amount of time that becomes available to ex-combatants. In the Burundian context the demobilisation of all child soldiers following the peace agreement between the government and the rebels yielded thousands of former child soldiers. Without any real prospects for schooling or leisure activities, there exists a risk of these children again being recruited into fighting groups.
The programmes aiming at individual development, whether focused on the healing of trauma or on individual skills training, thus hold the prospect of being important conflict-prevention mechanisms. However, there are several potential problems that deserve attention. For instance, the type of trauma or hardship experienced must be taken into account when designing the programme. Programmes with persons who have experienced violent trauma and who suffer from mental illness require the involvement of professionally trained coaches or personnel. The age groups targeted also need to be considered, since older youth deal with conflict and trauma in a different manner from younger children. Experiences from government-run programmes in South Africa also point to difficulties of ensuring the quality of activities when resources are scant.
In addition to the abovementioned problems, the issue of how to design the programmes in terms of gender can be of importance. It would be reasonable to claim that the main group to be targeted should be young males, since members of this group are the chief troublemakers in any post-conflict period. However, since the empowerment programmes more often than not include gender awareness as an important aspect of life-skills training, the inclusion of young women and girls is not only an issue of equality, but also a tool for co-operation and learning. Equality is no one-way process but entails a transformation of mindsets among both males and females. In addition, true empowerment of impoverished communities needs the participation of the entire community, not only the males. This is, of course, especially important in the realm of hiv/aids training and for the restoration of a society’s social fabric.
With the demise of apartheid sport was heralded as a harbinger of peace and reconciliation in South Africa. Integration of sports controlling boards preceded the first democratic election in 1994, and the readmittance of South Africa to international sport in 1992 was important in breaking the isolation experienced as a result of apartheid. More than a decade later much hope is still vested in sport. In the words of the Minister of Sport and Recreation: ‘Sport must be a catalyst for the building of a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic, prosperous and free South Africa. It must build social cohesion and build a proud South African nation of all South Africans.'
When addressing sport as a tool for reconciliation in South Africa, three levels for such processes can be envisaged: 1) the national level; 2) the community level; and 3) the individual level. Political accommodation at the elite level has paved the way for a new political order, with one of the most progressive constitutions ever in terms of promoting multiculturalism and human rights. However, the legacies of apartheid are omnipresent and inequalities and separation between the communities in South Africa persist. Social mobility is low and unemployment is high, leading to new conflicts emerging. The social and economic injustices promulgated through apartheid’s different stages cannot be easily overcome, and not only must vast economic resources be funnelled to impoverished communities, but there must also be major psychological transformations in order to change perceptions about different sport codes being ‘for blacks’ and ‘for whites’.
What does the South African case suggest for the further study of sport and its influence on reconciliation? The impact at the national level of reconciliation acts and symbols appears to be limited, because of the fleeting nature of symbolic events. National and provincial governments can take more enduring initiatives in the realm of policy making. Policies promoting integration and reconciliation can be used to govern the sports federations, enhance group interactions at school level and provide resources for integration projects. The quotas applied in South Africa should be viewed as an extreme form of intervention. At the other end of the scale we can identify uncontroversial yet possibly effective community-based work. Such projects can carry great potential for societal integration, reconciliation and the creation of new identities. However, action on all of the identified levels by governments or other organisations is likely to have a greater effect on reconciliation and conflict prevention than action in only one or two of these levels. Allowing all levels to interact in a joint top-down and bottom-up process holds promise.
It is important to note that the mechanisms underlying these processes are relatively unexplored. At all levels, but probably specifically at the community and individual level, we still do not know what mechanisms and contextual factors allow for the possible positive influence of sports. More in-depth studies are needed to generate theory on the mechanisms of sport interaction and reconciliation outcomes, to identify successful and unsuccessful sport initiatives and to identify relevant contextual factors.
The South African case suggests several clusters of factors, which may explain the success or failure of sports as a tool for reconciliation. A first set of factors relates to the design of specific initiatives in terms of target groups, activities pursued and leadership. In particular, we need to know more about the target groups which are most receptive to sport initiatives and which type of group interaction is most useful. Sport-based initiatives have targeted both groups directly influenced by violence (for instance ex-combatants), and groups that run the risk of ending up using violence as a tool to manage conflict (for instance youth in impoverished communities). To what extent is it necessary to deliberately include conflict resolution skills as part of sport initiatives? Do certain traumatised groups—for instance child soldiers—require professionally trained support staff?
A second set of factors relates to culture. Some societies might be more prone to absorb the reconciliatory and community-building effects of sports participation. Lederach points out that harnessing local cultural resources to build a ‘peace constituency’ is key in building peace at the grassroots level. In South Africa sport harbours immense cultural value in all communities. This may explain why much hope has been invested in sport as a platform for reconciliation. It is necessary to further explore how cultural settings may affect the reconciliatory aspects of sporting activities.
A third set of factors relates to the context of the countries in which pro-reconciliation sport initiatives take place. The phenomenon of quotas in the sports sector appears to be typical for South Africa, and such policy initiatives might only be relevant for a country that has faced such serious divisionary tendencies as that country during apartheid. In fact, reconciliation through sports might be more easily achieved after more devastating conflicts, but where segregation and hostility are not characterised by separate socioeconomic classes, apparent racial divides or strong language barriers. Such contextual factors also need to be further explored in order to create a holistic theoretical framework for the impact of sports on reconciliation and social identities.
This research was supported by a grant from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). The authors would like to thank Thomas Ohlson at the Department of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University, for constructive comments on an earlier draft of this article. We gratefully acknowledge assistance from the many people in South Africa who facilitated our research and who shared their views with us. The authors have contributed equally to this article, the order of authors is alphabetical.
 See YV Auweele, C Malcolm, & B Meulders (eds), Sport and Development, Leuven: LammooCampus, 2006; and M Keim, Nation Building at Play: Sport as a Tool for Social Integration in Post-apartheid South Africa, Oxford: Meyer and Meyer Sport, 2003.
 For important definitional distinctions, see K Brounéus, Reconciliation—Theory and Practice for Development Cooperation, Stockholm: Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), 2003; B Hamber & H van der Merwe, ‘What is this thing called reconciliation?’, Reconciliation in Review, 1 (1), 1998, pp 3-5; L Kriesberg, ‘Changing forms of coexistence’, in M Abu-Nimer (ed), Reconciliation, Justice and Coexistence, Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2001; and JP Lederach, Building Peace: Sustainable Reconciliation in Divided Societies, Washington, DC: usip, 1997.
 The policy document is available on the website of the African National Congress, at www.anc.org.za.
 See, for example, D Booth, The Race Game: Sport and Politics in South Africa, London: Frank Cass, 1998; A Guelke, ‘The politicisation of South African sport’, in L Allison (ed), The Politics of Sport, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1986; P Hain, ‘The politics of sport and apartheid’, in J Hargreaves (ed), Sport, Culture, and Ideology, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1982; and C Thomas (ed), Sport and Liberation in South Africa, Pretoria: University of Fort Hare, Department of Sport and Recreation, 2006. During apartheid an official classification system of the population groups was introduced, distinguishing between Whites, Black Africans, Coloureds and Indians. The categorisation served as a basis for political, economic and social separation.
 See, for instance, JL Gibson, ‘Overcoming apartheid: can truth reconcile a divided nation?’, Politikon, 31 (2), 2004, pp 129-155; JL Gibson & A Gouws, ‘Truth and reconciliation in South Africa: attributions of blame and the struggle over apartheid’, American Political Science Review, 93 (3), 1999, pp 501-517; A Jeffery, The Truth About the Truth Commission, Johannesburg: South African Institute of Race Relations, 1999; and D Posel & G Simpson (eds), Commissioning the Past: Understanding South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Johannesburg: Witwatersrand University Press, 2002.
 An important exception is the study by Marion Keim, who looks at sport in Western Cape and its connection to reconciliation and integration. Keim, Nation Building at Play. There are also a few evaluations of sport-related programmes and a number of studies on sport and the transition more generally. See, for instance, J Nauright, Sport, Cultures and Identities in South Africa, Cape Town: David Philip, 1997.
 On public ceremonies of forgiveness, see WJ Long & P Brecke, ‘Civil war and reconciliation: emotion and reason in conflict resolution’, in Long (ed), War and Reconciliation, Cambridge, MA: mit Press, 2003. On truth commissions, see PB Hayner, ‘Commissioning the truth: further research questions’, Third World Quarterly, 17 (1), 1996; and RI Rotberg & D Thompson (eds), Truth v Justice: The Morality of Truth Commissions, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000. On domestic or international judicial processes, see RJ Goldstone, ‘Bringing war criminals to justice during an ongoing war’, in J Moore (ed), Hard Choices: Moral Dilemmas in Humanitarian Intervention, Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1998; KJ Holsti, Peace and War—Armed Conflict and International Order 1648-1989, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991; and NJ Kritz (ed), Transitional Justice: How Emerging Democracies Reckon with Former Regimes, Washington, DC: United States Institute of Peace Press, 1995.
 See R Mac Ginty, ‘The role of symbols in peacemaking’, in J Darby & R Mac Ginty (eds), Contemporary Peacemaking: Conflict, Violence and Peace Processes, Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2003, p 238.
 The hosting of international sporting competitions can potentially generate other benefits as well. See the special issue of Third World Quarterly, 25 (7), 2004.
 See more in DR Black & J Nauright, Rugby and the South African Nation, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1998; and A Grundlingh, ‘From redemption to recidivism? Rugby and change in South Africa during the 1995 Rugby World Cup and its aftermath’, Sporting Traditions, 14 (2), 1998.
 The state of South African football and the challenges of hosting the 2010 World Cup are discussed in M Kunene Kunene, ‘Winning the cup but losing the plot? The troubled state of South African soccer’, in S Buhlungu, J Daniel, R Southall & J Lutchman (eds), State of the Nation: South Africa 2005-2006, Cape Town: hscr Press, 2006.
 J Nauright, Sport, Cultures and Identities in South Africa, Cape Town: David Philip, 1997.
 After the 2007 Rugby World Cup victory, which reignited the quota debate, South Africa began to make moves towards abolishing the racial quotas in sports for national teams. Minister of Sport Makhenkesi Stofile labelled the quotas a ‘failed experiment’ and said that true transformation in sports could only materialise through the allocation of more resources and the destruction of the myth that some sports codes were not for blacks. ‘Sports minister says “quotas are out”’, Mail and Guardian, 7 November, 2007. As late as November 2007 a public survey by the Human Sciences Research Council (hsrc) showed that a slim majority of South Africans still supported racial quotas in sports. The black population was, however, more than four times more positive than the white population. ‘Majority want quotas in sport: hsrc‘, sabc News, 5 November 2007.
 For a critical account of South African rugby, see M Keohane, Springbok Rugby Uncovered, Cape Town: Zebra Press, 2004. See also A Desai & Z Nabbi, ‘“Truck and trailer”: rugby and transformation in South Africa’, in Buhlungu et al, State of the Nation.
 W Kymlicka, Multicultural Citizenship, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995.
 ‘Racial quotas led Pietersen to leave South Africa’, Criticinfo, 30 August 2006.
 H Richards, ‘Chiliboy: dump the quota system’, News24.com, 12 April 2002; and ‘Questions of color still test South African national teams’, International Herald Tribune, 22 July 2002.
 Interview with Cliffie Booysen, Chief Operating Officer of Rugby Operations, South African Rugby Union, Cape Town, 23 November 2006.
 On the history of cricket in South Africa, see A Odendaal, The Story of an African Game: Black Cricketers and the Unmasking of One of South Africa’s Greatest Myths, 1850-2003, Cape Town: David Philip, 2003.
 M Abu-Nimer, ‘Conflict resolution, culture, and religion: toward a training model of interreligious peacebuilding’, Journal of Peace Research, 38 (6), 2001; and JP Lederach, Building Peace.
 On the current political and social challenges facing South Africa, see Buhlungu et al, State of the Nation.
 There are several other projects along the same lines, such as the Cape Windjammer Education Trust, which runs programmes where sailing is used for reconciliation. www.capewingjammers.com.
 The positive effects are also confirmed in the evaluation of similar projects in other countries. See, for instance, the evaluation of the Open Fun Football school, mainly active in the Balkans, by P Kvalsund, D Nyheim & J Telford, ccpa Open Fun Football Schools: An Evaluation, available online on the website of the International Platform on Sport and Development, at www.sportanddev.org.
 Keim, Nation Building at Play, pp 187-188. Keim studies both team sports and individual sport. A commonly held view is that team sport is better than individual sport in forging positive relationships among divided groups. However, she finds no conclusive answer to this question (p 185).
 Lederach, Building Peace, p 26.
 Ibid, p 29.
 H Tajfel, ‘Social identity and intergroup behaviour’, Social Science Information, 13 (2), 1974, pp 65-93.
 MB Brewer, ‘The social psychology of intergroup relations: can research inform practice?’, Journal of Social Issues, 53 (1), 1997, pp 197-211.
 DL Horowitz, Ethnic Groups in Conflict, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2000.
 Y Amir, ‘Contact hypothesis in ethnic relations’, Psychological Bulletin, 71 (5), 1969.
 Keim, Nation Building at Play.
 Interview with Brian Sebapole, Johannesburg, 15 November 2006.
 C Burnett, ‘Siyadlala Let’s Play’, Your Sport, June 2006, p 14.
 Ibid, pp 15-16.
 A Gschwend & U Selvaraju, Psycho-social Support Programmes to Overcome Trauma in Post-Disaster Interventions, Biel/Bienne: Swiss Academy for Development, 2006.
 ‘Burundi discontent and anger grow among the 3000 child soldiers demobilised from rebel armies: forgotten generation puts uneasy peace at risk’, Guardian, 16 January 2006.
 R Henley, Helping Children overcome Disaster Trauma through Post-emergency Psychosocial Sports Programs, Biel/Bienne: Swiss Academy for Development, 2005.
 M Stofile, ‘Sport as a human right’, in Thomas, Sport and Liberation in South Africa, pp 9-10.
 JP Lederach, Building Peace, pp 94-97.