Home EntertainmentArts-Books South Africa: From Apartheid Struggles Over Sport to Black Lives Matter Protests

South Africa: From Apartheid Struggles Over Sport to Black Lives Matter Protests

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Peter Hain and André Odendaal write about their book, ‘Pitch Battles: Sport, racism and resistance’, published by Jonathan Ball on 1 December.

Five decades ago, in the British winter of 1969-70, mass demonstrations and field invasions during the whites-only South African Springbok rugby tour disrupted the cosy relationship between elites from the two nations and shone global attention on apartheid in sport.

Thousands of protesters invaded rugby pitches, cricket grounds and tennis courts to disrupt whites-only teams touring from apartheid South Africa, provoking furious reaction from fans, administrators, conservative politicians and conservative media, leading to the unprecedented stopping in May 1970 of a scheduled South African cricket tour.

A year later, the new, headline-grabbing, direct-action form of sport protest spread from Britain to former white-run British colony Australia, and then to New Zealand.

Before that, anti-apartheid protesters holding up placards outside sport venues had been tolerated with patronising disdain. But when demonstrators used direct action to disrupt games and stop tours, they could never be ignored.

Occurring at the end of the 60s decade of youth revolt, cultural

change and decolonisation, these spectacular protests introduced a new

dimension to global sport, rupturing long-held class-based Victorian narratives about the sanctity of…

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