by clairmont chung
Nigeria won its fifth FIFA Under 17-World Cup by beating Mali in the 2015 final held on November 8 in Viña Del Mar, Chile. Nigeria has dominated this level of world soccer by virtue of its appearance in eight finals of the 16 tournaments to date. As if not enough this was a repeat victory to defend the cup won in the UAE in 2013. Repeat victories are rare and more so in world finals of any sport. But nothing is, as it seems. I for one find more comfort in search of a deeper wider context. The seaside host city for the final presented an opportunity to show that deeper wider context: and how that country and the Pacific Coast of South America intersect with African history, art, and soccer.
|Nigeria: Under 17 Soccer World Cup Champions 2015|
Equally remarkable as Nigeria’s 5 cups, is that this was the second all-African under-17 soccer final: Ghana and Nigeria had that honor in Japan 1993. These victories demonstrate Nigeria’s and Africa’s superiority over this age group in soccer. Africa is the winningest continent at this level with 7 World-Cups which is more than twice as many as Europe’s 3. Superiority here is not some unintelligent question of brain-size and race. It’s a question about the method of expression, the art, measured by creativity, agility, speed and goals. The game’s agreed King, the Brazilian Edson Arantes Do Nascimento, ‘Pele’, called this style ‘The Beautiful Game’.
Nigeria beat Mexico and Mali beat Belgium to reach the 2015 finals in a real demonstration of the beautiful game. Those victories, Mali’s more than Nigeria’s, resurrected aging sentiments of anti-colonials and our thinning interest in examples of triumphs against the empires.
Spanish Conquistadores once overran the whole of Latin America, including Mexico and Chile, murdered and enslaved the indigenous populations and supplemented that labor with captive Africans whom they had captured in a still evolving war for control over Africa. Latin America was not always Latin or America and became so only by overwhelming military force. Mexico and Chile were victims of this aggression: though in too many respects they remain as neo colonial and neoliberal as any former or current empire.