The final of the Africa Cup of Nations 2013 kicks off today in the FNB Satdium Johannesburg, South Africa. Swide, in partnership with Parallelo Zero, brings you the photography of Bruno Zanzottero and Marco Trovato, a project entitled ‘Footballing Africa’.
Burkino Faso’s appearance in the final of the continent’s most prestigious football tournaments could have been scripted by even the most cheesy of Hollywood screen writers, but sport has a habit of throwing up some ‘unbelievable’, stranger than fiction stories.
The small, landlocked West African nation, sandwiched between Mali and Ghana are by no means footballing aristocrats. They are cureently ranked 203rd in the world out of 228 and since the Africa Cup of Nations was held in the country in 1998, when they reached the semi final, the game has not progressed as no funding was available.
When Paul Put was left his native Belgium after being banned for match-fixing it seemed the African football was the refuge of an unwanted coach. After success with Gambia, the Belgian is continuing to claw back his redemption with the transformation of a Burkino Faso side apparently devoid of ambition or resourses. But the bulk of the team’s best players ply their trade in Frances, they are not without their share of skill, that aligned to the coach’s shrewd defensive strategy has seen the team surpass all expectations with a place in the final against Nigeria.
No doubt the country will come to a standstill for the final, that is the way the game affects each country in Africa. Football is one of the great cultural unifiers across what is probably the world’s most diverse continent. The arrival of satellite television with Europe’s richest clubs and competitions on display has effected the local game, by draining not only the best players but now the supporters too. Yet football remains embedded in the DNA of all Africans, as the photography of Bruno Zanzottero and Marco Trovato illustrates.
“Soccer in Africa isn't just about sport and leisure. It also represents a different perspective for your own future. Media are all focused on African soccer stars, whose success and popularity are often bigger than those of political leaders. Following these dreams of glory, millions of youngsters run after battered footballs on improvised dust fields, while from Cairo to Capetown, important matches may paralyze entire nations. A strong passion that is inversely proportional to the money Africa can afford to invest. That's why African football is forced to share the same destiny of the Black Continent: raw materials export. Nowadays African soccer is a gold mine that produces champions and sport fairy tales. But also disappointments and ruthless failures.” – Parallelo Zero
Bruno Zanzottera – Sergio Ramazzotti – Alessandro Gandolfi/Parallelozero - ©Marco Trovato