Chris Stone is post-doctoral research associate at Liverpool Hope University with a primary role on the socio-economic evaluation of Everton in the Community. He previously taught Sport and Cultural Studies at Sheffield Hallam University and more recently was employed as lead researcher at community organisation Football Unites Racism Divides (FURD), Sheffield, where he carried out a longitudinal programme of research exploring the role of football in the lives of refugees and asylum seekers.
Research interests focus on football fandom, community sport and methodological approaches that seek to find pragmatic solutions to issues arising within the fluid and fragmentary life-worlds of disenfranchised individuals and groups whilst also raising understanding and furthering knowledge across disciplinary boundaries.
Football’s search for global markets in East Africa
Professional football in East Africa is a relatively recent development and the sport’s progress in the region has differed to other parts of the African continent. Nonetheless, the sport has been subject to similar pressures in recent years brought about by the combination of socio-political change and global capitalism.
The enormous worldwide marketing campaign embarked on by the English Premier League has been associated with cultural imperialism and neo-colonialism (Darby, 2002); the opening of digital communication markets in the region providing greater access to football fans and a realisation of a major untapped market in footballing human labour giving weight to such arguments. Similarly, the use of sport for development and peace in the global south has been critiqued for reinforcing the conditions which global aid agencies and non-governmental organisations are supposedly challenging (Darnell, 2012).
This paper offers an analysis of African football’s ‘third way’ for global and regional development. Rather than football’s use by political powers for nation building or social control, its development in East Africa has arguably been pushed by more overt commercial interests. In July 2017, Everton FC became the first English Premier League football club to travel to East Africa as part of their pre-season preparations and on the behest of new shirt sponsor SportPesa, a Kenyan based betting company who have supported the development of local football but will soon end their sponsorship of The Kenyan Premier League as a result of gambling based tax rises in the country. Using this partnership as a case study, we will examine the impact on Everton fans, followers of the English Premier League in East Africa, supporters of local football in the region and the organisations that govern the sport