What Soccer Means to South Africa

What Soccer Means to South Africa
Dominic Nahr / Reportage by Getty Images for TIME

The Goal Mouth at Robben Island Prison
In the 1960s, during the first years that Nelson Mandela and other antiapartheid fighters were incarcerated at the notorious prison on Robben Island, the inmates fought for, and received, the right to play soccer on two pitches created on the prison grounds. They created an eight-club, 24-team league run strictly according to FIFA regulations. To the player-prisoners, the game represented more than just sport: player skill disproved the apartheid notion that blacks were physically inferior, while meticulous observance of the rules demonstrated the same for mental ability.

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