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Africa is being heavily penalised

By Kofi Annan and Didier Drogba
Posted on Wednesday, 9 June 2010 10:38

Global rules on trade, technology, finance, migration and copyright are heavily penalising Africa, say Kofi Annan, chair of the Africa Progress Panel, and Ivorian and Chelsea footballer Didier Drogba.

TheAfricaReport.com will be publishing the Africa Progress Panel’s development scorecards for World Cup games involving African teams on our dedicated page for the 2010 World Cup. Watch out on Friday for the first one – South Africa vs Mexico

Billions of people are excited about the World Cup. So are we – and not just because our two countries are fielding such strong sides. The games are a vast tapestry of colour, noise, talent, competitiveness, sporting suspense and human drama, on and off the pitch. Most of all, they are going to be fun – for the teams, spectators and the whole world, watching or listening live, from cafes, bars, living rooms, public screens and radios, downtown and in the most remote corners of the earth.

The World Cup brings the planet together more effectively than any treaty or convention ever can. It affirms our common humanity, at a time when so much of the news does the opposite. For a moment we can put aside the disasters and wars, prejudice and intolerance. Sport, like music, breaks down barriers, challenging stereotypes. It gets us going, dancing, and celebrating.

The diversity of teams, and the countries they represent, is what makes the World Cup such a great event. The many differences between them matter little once the game has started. But while every team represents the aspirations of millions of their fellow citizens, each has taken a very different journey to get there.

We have seen time and again how sport can help overcome the most deep-rooted conflicts and tensions within countries. Here in South Africa, the 1995 rugby World Cup helped to unify the country and heal the deep scars of the past. Our dream is that sport can bridge gaps and help overcome differences between nations and even continents.

For the fact is that many African and developing countries are still at a great disadvantage. They are not being allowed to compete internationally on a level playing field, with an impartial referee and a clear set of accepted rules and regulations. Far from it; in fact, they are being heavily penalized. What would be a scandal in the world of football is still commonplace in the society of nations.

They are not responsible for climate change, but are suffering its worst effects, making life much more difficult, unhealthy and dangerous for billions of people. Global rules on trade, technology, finance, migration and copyright make the tasks of growing their economies and fighting poverty, of making sure that everyone has enough to eat and decent healthcare, much more difficult. As a result of unfair rules, meeting the Millennium development goals is a much harder struggle that it should be.

Players and fans, whether from Midrand, Manila, Manchester or Montevideo, all understand the importance of fair play and an impartial referee. We passionately believe that this understanding should not be limited to the way countries play, run and score against each other, but also the way they do business and politics with each other; that the spirit of the World Cup should extend into countries’ economic and political relations; that the celebration of our common humanity should not be limited to one month every four years.

This is an extract from the foreword to the ‘Scoring for Africa’ report, published by the Africa Progress Panel.

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