The purpose of this study is to examine sports as a unifying factor in international relations, a case study of Nigeria and Ghana relations. The research relied fully on secondary data to provide the qualitative analysis in solving the research problems. Findings revealed that relation between Nigeria and Ghana was an age long things. However, sports have further unified both countries in their relations covering trade, cultural exchange diplomacy and security. Findings further revealed that it been sports that have been strengthening the relationship between both countries because of some instances of mass deportation of Ghanaians from Nigeria and mass deportation of Nigerians from Ghana. Results demonstrated that sports has successfully bridge this animosity gap towards sustenance of brotherly love
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
All over the world, international relations is dependent on many actors because nations would continue to struggle to attain prestige and power through demonstrable and undisputable achievements in the international arena (Murray, 2011). Considering the United Nations goal of maintaining better international relations, peace and security, nations now adopts reasonable ways to legitimize their superiority peacefully and the use of sports as a unifying tool in international relations is one. It is for this reason that sports can be considered as one of the most exciting contemporary phenomena, it is considered modern because of its current fascinating form (Danyel, 2014). It started around 150 years ago, and has presented several highly exciting events that have won the interest of billions of individuals all over the world (Murray, 2011).
Nowadays, sporting events are viewed by billions of people around the world; these experiences are no longer confined to small audiences. Sport is, in fact, a term that relatively often tends to be confused (Jarvie, 2016). One can distinguish recreational sport, high-performance or elite sport, amateur sport, professional sport, etc. Recreational or leisure sport is frequently carried out by the largest group of people, and its main purpose is to improve human physical and mental wellness (Jarvie, 2016). Elite sport, on the other hand, is meant to be more demanding and sophisticated, includes hard training and requires high quality performance, and is often a full time job (Aman, 2016). In other words, most sport that can be seen on television and that gains the attention of both media and spectators at sports venues is elite sport, and it is the dimension of elite, high performance sport’s physical rivalry. High performance sport can, however, have different levels: regional, national and international (Dorsey, 2014). International sports has secured over the years positive international ties among nations of diverse race, belief, religion, level of advancement. International community uses international organizations to engage states in multilateral relations; sports too have international sporting organizations for various sports (Dorsey, 2014).
Sports have become an instrument of identity for countries. Sport is a political and diplomatic arena where politics parodies sport and vice versa. This means that sports as diplomacy can be used as a tool to heighten confrontation when relations between two nations are poor, or, if relations start to improve, sport can also create and accelerate diplomatic momentum. Sport and international relations should have little in common, apart from an international dimension (Houlihan, 2010). However, it is commonly known that world politics influences sport, and the opposite, sports events can sometimes catalyze political ones. It was not always like that, however. It is important to outline that sport as a social phenomenon is relatively new. Although its origins can be dated back to ancient times to the sports of Ancient Greece, modern sport appeared in the middle of the nineteenth century. Initially it had a very amateur character and was not popular, so its significance for international relations was rather marginal (Houlihan, 2010). That situation changed radically in the first half of the twentieth century, mainly due to the International Olympic Committee and the Olympic Games, which transformed sport to a higher level. The growing popularity of sport during this time can be easily illustrated by the number of athletes participating in the Olympics. A remarkable increase has been observed: Athens 1896—241 participants, Paris 1900—997, Los Angeles 1932— 1332, Berlin 1936—3963. The rising popularity of sport could also be seen in the media. This radical increase in interest in sport lead to an enhanced role of sports in international relations. As stated, when sport gains popularity, government involvement usually increases (Coakley, 2013). Sport can play a key role in international relations in various ways. It can, for instance, be used by states or geopolitical blocks to display their alleged superiority or any other desired characteristic. That type of sport-international relations tends to be the most common and the most significant at the same time.
Generally, sports has become an important aspect of African culture (Holt, 2012) so much so that the interest in and popularity of sports have affected the political, social, economic and educational fabric of the nation; sports as a whole has unified Africa several times. Sports are all forms of usually competitive physical activities or games aiming to use, maintain or improve physical abilities and skills of people. Usually the contest or game is realized between two sides, each attempting to excel the other. Some sports allow a tie game; others provide tie-breaking methods, to ensure one winner and one loser (Holt, 2012). A number of such two-sided contests may be arranged in a tournament producing a champion. Many sports leagues make an annual champion by arranging games in a regular sports season, followed in some cases by playoffs. Hundreds of sports exist, from those between single contestants, through to those with hundreds of simultaneous participants, either in teams or competing as individuals. In certain sports such as racing, many contestants may compete, each against all with one winner (Dorsey, 2012).
Sports being part of the universal culture is an important instrument for combining different people in the world. It is an activity that contributes to world peace. It can be defined as a summation of activities designed to affect positively social and moral benefits as well as physical benefits. Maguire (2015) stated that sport is probably the most effective means of communication in the modern world, bypassing both verbal and written communication and reaching directly out to billions of people world-wide. There is no doubt that sport is a viable and legitimate way of building friendship between nations. This has been demonstrated quite a number of times.
A number of concrete examples of scenarios where sports particularly football has been used as a unifying factor in international relations can be found in history to show how football can have a myriad of functions within international relations (Jailan, 2009). Its role can be positive improving international relations of states with difficult histories, or the way around worsening the relations as is the case with the 2009 Egypt/Algerian football conflict. According to (Jailan, 2009), there was both a negative impact in the relations between Algeria and Egypt, but a positive impact between Algeria and Sudan in history.
Ordinarily, sport and international relations should have little in common, apart from an international dimension of competition (Anuchie, 2015). However, it is commonly known that world politics influences sport, and also, sports events can sometimes catalyze political ones. It was not always like that, however. It is important to state that sport as a social phenomenon, is relatively new. Although its origins can be dated back to ancient times to the sports of ancient Greece, modern sport appeared in the middle of the nineteenth century. Initially it had a very amateur character and was not popular, so its significance for international relations was rather marginal. That situation changed radically in the first half of the twentieth century, mainly due to the International Olympic Committee and the Olympic Games, which transformed sport to a higher level (Anuchie, 2015). The growing popularity of sport during this time can be easily illustrated by the number of athletes participating in the Olympics which has done more of unification function to the world than harm.
Up till 2019, the Olympic Games have been hosted by 44 cities in 23 countries. It was used as a tool for international relations in 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, the Olympics have been held to relate Asia or Oceania with other countries of the world four times, a sharp increase compared to the previous 92 years of modern Olympic history. The 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro were the first Olympics for a South American country meant to connect the whole world to them (Jeux, 2018). The World Cup is another prestigious sports tournament in the world purely on football, even as the most widely viewed and followed sporting event in the world, exceeding even the Olympic Games; the cumulative viewership of all matches of the 2018 World Cup in Russia was estimated to be 26.29 billion with an estimated 715.1 million people watching the final match, a ninth of the entire population of the planet (Glenn, 2018). Although, Ghana did not participate in this last world cup but Nigeria participated.
However, this research will focus on the Nigeria and Ghana while examining sports a unifying factor in international relations.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Sports has become a global phenomenon across the world. The advent of Olympic games has given sports a global recognition and position in international relations. Sports, especially football has become one of the most important tools in countries such as Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia or even in Rwanda and all over Africa; creating national common sentiments where the enduring boundaries between tribal groups had lead them to extremely hostilities (Jarvie, 2016). As a matter of fact, sport has been able to recreate the feeling of national belonging, which surpasses the deep-rooted rivalries and tensions. Sports has also been used in the same trend to improve the relations and understanding between countries like Japan and South Korea through the joint organization of the 2002 World Cup, or with the efforts being made in Israel in the same manner between Jews and Arabs. Sports has not been able to play this role in most instances because it is reasonable to maintain that international sports has been instrumental to violent nationalism expressions. Although, Gustafsson (2010) nominated football for the 2010 Nobel Peace Price by portraying football as a unifying and peacemaking medium. Indeed, they contended that the contribution made by the sport for reconciling States and nations serve as a balance for its more negative sides involving violence and riots in the stadium stands. This frequent violence that is associated with sports has been a hindrance towards peaceful unification of states and nations. Funding and preparation is a major requirement in sports and football, any inadequacies in these therefore constitutes an impediment towards achievement of its unification purpose.
On the contrary, the researcher is of the supposition that development of sports in Nigeria and Ghana will be able to recreate the feeling of social belonging in the nations, which surpasses the deep-rooted rivalries and tensions.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The general objective of this study is to examine sports as a unifying factor in international relations with focus on the Nigeria and Ghana while the following are the specific objectives:
- To find out if sports can be used as a unifying factor in trade between Nigeria and Ghana.
- To determine the effect of sports on cultural exchange between Nigeria and Ghana..
- To determine to what extent sports is being promoted as a unifying factor in diplomacy in Nigeria and Ghana.
- To find out if sports can be used as a unifying factor in security between Nigeria and Ghana
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
- Can sports be used as a unifying factor in trade between Nigeria and Ghana?
- What are the effects of sports on cultural exchange between Nigeria and Ghana?
- To what extent is sport being promoted as a unifying factor in diplomacy in Nigeria and Ghana?
- Can sports be used as a unifying factor in security between Nigeria and Ghana?
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The following are the significance of this study:
- The outcomes of this study will enlighten the government, policy makers, sport administrators, stakeholders and the general public on sports, as a unifying factor in international relations. It will also be used in redesigning the sporting managements in Nigeria and Ghana for better future performance towards better international relations.
- This research hopes to contribute to the body of literature in the area of sports as a unifying factor in international relations with focus on Nigeria and Ghana, thereby enlarging the body of the empirical literature for future research in the subject area
Methodology is part of the research that shows the ways and approaches of collecting the data (Oliver, 2004). This research is primarily qualitative as it is based on sports as a unifying factor in international relations with focus on Nigeria and Ghana between 2010 and 2018. The research will also utilize secondary data. Data collection was mainly by document analysis/content analysis. Document analysis/content analysis also called “textual analysis” (Travers, 2001) in the study will include all kinds of academic articles, textual and multi-media products, ranging from television programmes to web sites on the internet. Secondary source includes text books some university and public libraries across the country, journals and periodicals and information obtained from primary sources. These sources helped in providing relevant data and information relating to the study in international relations with focus on Nigeria and Ghana.
1.7 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The current study is designed to cover sports generally in Nigeria as a unifying factor in international relations with specific focus on football. Although the main focus have been the activities of sporting authorities in Nigeria and Ghana between 2010 and 2018. Nigeria and Ghana will be used as a case study in this research base of the fact that the countries has been the major players in sporting events across the continent. They are dominant over all other countries due to the large patronage that sporting activities receive in Nigeria and Ghana.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Sports:An activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.
Football:Form of team game involving kicking (and in some cases also handling) a ball.
International Relations:The way in which two or more nations interact with and regard each other, especially in the context of political, economic, or cultural relationships.
Security: the state of being free from danger or threat.
Cultural exchange: any mutual sharing of information, usually cultural, between two or more species for the purpose of improving friendship and understanding between them.
Trade: the action of buying and selling goods and services.