Football and Politics in Tanzania

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Tanzania flag in stadium field with soccer football


Football and politics are volatile, which often triggers intolerance and violence. When both worlds meet, it’s pretty hard to dissociate them. However, such a mixture doesn’t always end in hooliganism. In countries with a colonial past, football is also a channel through which the oppressed voice their nationalism. Football and politics have met long ago in Tanzania, and in this article, we’ll talk about some of its long-lasting effects. 

The Kariakoo Derby

The Tanzanian Premier League isn’t among the most-watched football leagues globally. Yet, when Simba FC and Yanga FC face each other, the whole country stops to watch it. The match became known as the Kariakoo Derby, and it’s one of the main rivalries within the Tanzanian Premier League. Check the latest odds for both teams on 10bet Tanzania.

Kariakoo is a local appropriation from the English “Carrier Corps”, which held a base in Dar es Salam. “Yanga ” also derives from the original English name “Dar es Salaam Young Africans SC”. Eventually, the team’s split in two, and the other part originated the Queens FC, later known as Simba FC. You can follow Simba’s performance in the CAF’s Champions League at 10bet Africa.

Political rallies were banned during the independence struggle in the 50s. In this period, Yanga’s clubhouse would host clandestine meetings of the TANU (Tanganyika African National Union). By then, the leadership of Julius Nyerere. The ties between football and politics haven’t been broken since. 

Moving On

Politics and football remained mingled after independence. In 1967, TANU sought to influence the sport by completely replacing the leadership in the national association. According to new rules, TANU membership was a mandatory requisite for getting the job. This measure ensured political power over the most popular sport in the country. 

Yanga’s headquarters was, in fact, fully funded by the ASP (Zanzibari Afro-Shirazi Party), which later joined the CCM (Chama Cha Mapinduzi). Both clubs were remodelled to reflect President Nyerere’s Ujamaa philosophy. It refrained from “capitalist values” and were based on collective ownership. Arguably, such an approach has compromised the financial stability of both clubs. 

Despite being the biggest clubs in the country, neither Yanga nor Simba has a stadium to call their own. Due to lack of resources, they also struggle to form the younger generations, resulting in a waste of human resources. Such weakness is fatal in continental competitions. So, the best Tanzanian teams don’t usually go far in tournaments like CAF’s Champions League. 

Private Affairs

The succession of mediocre results of Yanga and Simba is leading fans to push for modernisation. More voices are now advocating for the privatisation of both clubs. Simba FC has already sold 49% of its stakes to the MeTL Group, a Tanzanian multinational company, in 2018. 

The positive results were almost immediate. Simba was the first Tanzanian club to play at the knockout rounds of the African Champions League in two decades. Similar demands are gaining importance among Yanga’s supporters, who want to see a modernised team. 

Nevertheless, the government still holds the majority of the stakes in the Kariakoo Derby. The government also seems to have influenced Yanga’s recent election to control its outcome. For many political activists, it’s just a matter of time until liberal policies within Simba face governmental opposition. 

The Case of Zanzibar

The Zanzibar archipelago is an autonomous region of Tanzania. Zanzibar also has an autonomous football federation, the Zanzibar Football Association (ZFA). In fact, the sport is so strong in the region that it has its premier league, plus its other three divisions. Zanzibar has a “national” team, known as the Zanzibar Heroes, despite not being considered a nation.

ZFA’s continental aspirations went as far as the Confederation of African Football. There, they fought for full membership rights. In 2017, the ZFA was recognised as a CAF’s full member, only to lose the membership months later. It means it can’t play in continental competitions as a national team since it isn’t a nation. In the same year, the Zanzibar Football Association was renamed Zanzibar Football Federation (ZFF). 

According to sources linked to Ahmad, the Tanzanian government-supported Zanzibar’s exclusion. Tanzania’s Ministry of Sports initially supported the bid. However, the situation changed after the ZFF showed “too much” autonomy in its decisions. 


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Football Kick. Youth Player Kicking Soccer Ball on Field. Football Ball in Motion. Legs of Sports Soccer Football Player Sportsman In Motion With Ball

Initiatives like the Future Stars Academy are beginning to reshape the future of Tanzania football. More associations are now investing in younger divisions to foster homegrown talents. Tanzania’s football remains tied to politics. It keeps struggling with nationalist issues, making national teams struggle on the continental stage. 


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  1. sodex man oladele

    1 year ago



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