CAPE TOWN - Cape Town's Green Point
stadium stands on a common where football has been played for 150
years and where the beauty of the site belies a painful history
of racial segregation played out on its pitches.
The $600 million stadium, one of South Africa's largest,
will host eight World Cup matches including a semi-final, and
the city hopes the new landmark will be a lasting reminder of a
tournament which helped forge unity in the rainbow nation.
"Fields of Play" an exhibition by Cape Town's District Six
museum traces the history of football at Green Point common and
the fate of some of the clubs who trained there as Cape Town
grew from a colonial outpost to a booming city before
apartheid's Group Areas Act tore its social fabric apart.
The first football match at Green Point, which sits between
Table Mountain and the ocean, was played by a team of British
officers against Cape Town civil servants in 1862.
Interest in football grew and in 1869 a local newspaper the
Cape Town Argus printed a set of rules for football provided by
the British Garrison. Amateur football associations sprung up, but
membership was restricted to racial categories, reflective of
the segregation which classed people as African, coloured,
Indian or white.
Correspondence included in the exhibition details how teams
would apply to use training pitches on the common, with the best
ground reserved exclusively for white teams, while black teams
were often limited to land barely suitable for football.
Faded photographs show the teams posing proudly in their
strips and the enthusiasm with which they were embraced by their
In 1950 South Africa's apartheid government passed the Group
Areas Act which assigned different racial groups to different
areas, prohibiting black and coloured people from central areas
and strictly regulating movement.
Tens of thousands were displaced from the centre of Cape
Town and forced out to townships in the Cape Flats. Clubs such
as the Sea Point Swifts, based in Sea Point a little way down
the coast from Green Point, found themselves forcibly relocated.
While some of the amateur clubs which used to train at Green
Point preserved their identity after being forced out to the
townships others folded, deprived of their members and the
communities which had supported them.
Other clubs found it all but impossible to arrange games,
due to the laws preventing them from traversing certain areas.
Cape Town locals have flocked to World Cup games, and the
city's Portuguese community for example was delighted at being
able to watch Portugal thrash North Korea 7-0 at Green Point.
Nevertheless there was also strong opposition to the
building of the World Cup stadium at Green Point, with some
arguing one of the stadiums close to the townships - considered
by many the true home of football during apartheid, should have
been developed into a World Cup venue.
Follow FFT.com on Twitter
Join FFT.com on Facebook
Tony Pulis is set to leave Premier League side Stoke City
Manchester City and the New York Yankees have formed a new Major League Soccer team
Real Madrid president under scrutiny after latest coaching project ends in disarray
Real Madrid and Jose Mourinho will part company at the end of the current season
Ten years on, the legends speak to FFT
Your questions answered by an A to Z of legends
He's here, he's there, he's...
The cost of Premier League away travel
Nike CR7 IX for you
FourFourTwo is brought to you by Haymarket Consumer Media & FourFourTwo is part of Haymarket Sport
| International Licensing | © Haymarket Media Group 2010