Ethnicity, Conflict and Peace-building: Effects of European Football Support in Nigeria

Ethnicity, Conflict and Peace-building: Effects of European Football Support in Nigeria

Henry Olusegun Majaro-Majesty [bio]
Department of Adult Education
Faculty of Education
University of Ibadan, Ibadan


In recent times, sport has been exploited as tool for engendering peace in communities, cities, and between nations of the world. At the same time, numerous writers have raised questions and doubts as to whether it has the capacity to transform individuals, and change conflict/violent behaviors. This study, a participatory research, observed the influence of football fanaticism/support in bringing together youths and non-youths alike to develop a new sense of identity (ethnicity), different from those based on primordial factors of common descent, language, religion, and cultural heritage, which create growing concern for violent conflict. My research discovered that football’s capacity to integrate people was high but could, if not controlled, produce another form of ethnic conflict based on club identity. A primary recommendation is that, if sport (football) is to be designed for peace building, tolerance education must be introduced for football lovers.

Nigerians have formed part of the global followers of the European football, especially the British premiership league. The national media’s specialty at covering and broadcasting of European football has been unprecedented. The passion, zeal, accuracy, and dexterity with which presenters of football matches broadcast and run commentary of the premiership and other leagues in Europe increases viewers’ love and interest for the game of football. Also developed in viewers is the interest to identify with a club side as a fan/supporter. The followership could be compared to that experienced with the Nigerian local football league in the 1970 and mid 80s, which has since been reduced drastically because of poor organization.

Apart from the national media, another medium providing Nigerians with the avenue to view live coverage of these matches is the pay per-view centers, scattered all across the nation’s cities. These viewing centers, specializing in providing pay per view services of European football matches, have increased tremendously since the beginning of the 21st century when more cable television net-works entered into the business with fairly affordable subscription rates. Audiences viewing games, plus fanatic support for particular clubs, have increased. An average Nigerian youth and adult (male and female) are happy to identify as fan of a chosen club side in the European football league. Visits at these viewing centers will find fans displaying knowledge of clubs history and player’s profiles, as well as mini-fans club (non-formalized club). All members are known and are identified as “our man’ and “our club” showing their unflinching support and love for their chosen club.

In 2006 and 2007, the effects of English premiership on Nigerians (youths and adults alike) took a new dimension when fans began to label streets after particular football club in the English premiership. There was conflict in parts of Lagos and Ibadan, and other parts of the country, which in some cases lead to violence and killings between supporters of different clubs. Is ethnic identity growing from this? On the surface, it seems that the characteristics of ethnicity are observably on the rise.

With this picture, one may conclude that football is an instigator in causing conflict and the same time at integrating people – a strong point or element in peace and community building. In view of this, my interest  in studying events at these viewing centers to verify the seeming strength of football, to integrate a diverse people of different cultures, language, gender, and religion, (of which was the basis Nigeria had suffered and still fear disintegration and disunity) was stimulated. This paper includes analyses of the strength and weakness of football as a strategy for engendering peace, and recommends preventive measures for controlling the violent conflict tendencies that football followership/fanaticism generates. The questions of this study therefore are:

 Is another kind of ethnicity being formed on the bases of football support/fanaticism?
What is the nature of ethnicity that football support and fanaticism has developed in Nigeria?
Have there been inter-group conflicts as a result of football supports?
What the causes of inter-groups conflicts?
Where there are no open conflicts, are there inter-group prejudice and discrimination based on football support/fanaticism?
Has there been any evidence of ethnic integrations based on football followership?

Scope of the study
This study covers football followership of the British premier league in the year of 2007/2008 football season. Three case studies of pay per-view centers from multi-ethnic residential areas within Ibadan city, Oyo state of Nigeria were observed because of the heterogeneous nature of the residents of the area. The intent is to highlight the effects of football support in generating conflict, violence, and ethnicity on one hand, while investigating peace and football support as an agent of inter-ethnic integration on the other.

Literature Review
It is wise to clarify issues, concepts, and possibly develop a framework that would afford a clearer understanding of the focus of this research study. Football followership of the multi-ethnic nature of Nigeria – looking at its ethnic conflict experiences and the connection between peace and sports – are reviewed. Fanaticism is taken as the act of fondness for which an individual extends his supports, solidarity, and is emotionally attached to a club. Fanaticism could as well mean followership and in that case, a fan is a supporter or a follower of a football club. Fanaticism, fan, followers, and supporters are therefore in this paper referred to as having the same meaning and used interchangeably in this paper.

Conceptualizing Ethnicity
Defining ethnicity is not easy. Controversy emerges from whether ethnic group and ethnicity should have different meaning or not. Burgess (1978) is convinced that ethnicity is a synthesis of ethnic group, meaning that it can only be understood through each other. Two sets of debates provide insight into the term ethnicity. They are rational versus non-rational and the objective and subjective schools of thoughts. The rationalist believe in a logical reasoning emphasized upon voluntary, functional pragmatic situational nature of ethnicity, unlike the non-rationalist who see ethnicity as not just a group of people believing in primordial evidence of common decent but a changing need for people to group together to respond to social pressures and a basis for group action.

Adam (1971) observe that ethnic identification should be seen as the result of efforts by under- privileged groups to improve their lot through collective mobilization, or conversely, the efforts of a super-ordinate group to preserve the privileges they enjoy by exploiting subjected groups. The objective criterion sees ethnicity as one group allegiance, one class of group membership, one kind of link or bond between individuals; one form of social diversity, or one sort of social status (Parsons, 1954, quoted from Burgess, 1978). Following this sense, Elaine Burgess states that ethnicity becomes the character, quality, or condition of belonging to an ethnic group and ethnic group in itself. From these, one may describe ethnicity as the quality or character, which a group possess and manifests, while it identifies an ethnic group once these qualities and characters are observable over a long period of time.

The subjective criteria refer to the socio-psychological aspects or the affective ties of ethnicity, although these are frequently related back to the objective perspectives of conceiving ethnic groups. Weber (1968) viewed ethnic membership as a subjective belief, a kind of presumed identity, which is the psychological category essential for individual motivation. Brass (1976), based on this, identifies ethnicity as the ethnic identity felt by members of the ethnic community or group. With all these, ethnicity could be taken as solidarity, attachment, and emotional feeling or tie towards a group or individuals sharing same ideology, interest, sentiments, enjoyments and exhibit some level of discrimination and defend together against opposition groups. This defense or discrimination could be expressed either through verbal comments or physical violence. In order words, a football supporter’s club is an ethnic group and their discriminations, violence, and defense is an act of ethnicity. In this reference, ethnicity may exclude descent, language, religion, class, and status. The ability of football to bring people of different ethnic backgrounds (defined under primordial concepts of common descent, language, and heritage or culture) together to exhibit a common interest and acting under same group umbrella as fans club could as well be regarded as an ethnic group.

The Multi-ethnic nature of Nigeria
The nature of ethnicity in Nigeria is based upon descent, language, and religion. In spite of the little variation identifiable among these ethnic groups, their collective strength is built on racial descent.  Inherent conflicts makes this less effective because among these racial groups are discriminations and internal stereotypes. Ethnicity in Nigeria is inseparable from certain goals to attain scarce resources (Imobighe, 2003; Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, IPCR 2003). This is shown by communal violence between the three major ethnic groups in their struggle for political power, as well as those self-determination struggles between majority and minority groups.

Nigeria is not a new example of a multi-ethnic country; its ethnic makeup makes it a highly conflict-prone state. The diversity in ethnic groups, numbering 389 according to Otite (2000), indicates Nigeria is delicately fragile, requiring strong proactive management approaches to ensure positive ethnic relations among all. The complexity of the nation’s ethnic constitution, however, was to prove fears correct with the outbreak of civil war in the late 1960s. Ever since, the question of how to manage the diversity effectively has been asked.  Most strategies, applied to handle this diversity, aimed to integrate Nigerians by catching them young through the establishment of unity schools and national youth service corps. Other strategies project equal representation of all ethnic groups – major and minority groups – through the federal character policy and quota system to ensure appointments in political and civil service offices to attain a balanced representation among the ethnic groups, at least among the three major ethnic groups – Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba (Osaghea, 1992). These strategies have proven in ineffective at the face of obvious violent conflicts among ethnic groups who had coexisted in peace – before colonization, during it, and at independence.

Imobighe (2003) records that, from 1998 to 2003, over 50 ethno-religious conflicts occurred in Nigeria, indicating that the national unity and cohesion was not formidable. However, via third party interventions, all of these violent self-determinations, in which youths were active in militia, were resolved. Where that leaves Nigeria is that mutual suspicion and distrust continues to exist among these ethnic groups, over political appointments, signs of marginalization, or subjugations and distributions of development projects (Majaro-Majesty, 2006). In his study he underscored the need for increases in peace-building education and integration of conflict transformation strategies to ensure demilitarization, and reintegration of militia and community people to positive civil living, to increase faith and hope in the nation and among coexisting former adversaries. Stereotypes and superiority tendencies are major inhibitors in interactions between two individual from opposite ethnic groups in Nigeria (Majaro-Majesty, 2008). While strategies to cement relationships between persons often depends on the avenues that workplace, schools, businesses (market place), political forum, and even sports could provide, the need to treat the minds that carry stereotypes and paradynamic references is high. If sport is to be taken as a strategy for treating stereotypes and paradynamic assumptions, change agents and their agencies must have a good knowledge of peace-building, gain conflict and behavior transformation.

Sports and Peace-building
Sport has been defined to have very close relationship with recreation and competition. The purpose it serves is increasing in scope in today’s world. Coakley (1994) defined sports as:

… an institutional competitive activity that involves vigorous physical exertion or the use of relatively complex physical skills by individuals whose participation is motivated by a combination of the intrinsic satisfaction associated with the activity itself and the external rewards earned through participation.

Wuest and Bucher (1999) define sport as recreation, as a socially acceptable and non-profit oriented activity performed during leisure hours which provides immediate and inherent satisfactions to participants. Mull, Bayless, Ross and Jamieson (1997) see recreation as a means, through which people are educated on how to lead a positive live in their leisure hours. Leisure is taken as a period when an individual is not engaged in any activity to earn a living. Derived from this then, sport is not just leisure; it is also employable for other uses.

United Nations (2003) defines sport as all forms of physical activity that contributes to physical fitness, mental well-being, and social interaction. This underscores sport and recreation as providers of a forum for acquiring skills such as discipline, confidence, and leadership and also as a medium for teaching core principles such as tolerance, cooperation, and respect. It teaches victory and defeat management. These skills are vital elements in peace-building to which sport can contribute. Peace itself is not just a situation without conflict and violence; it also depicts a situation in which an individual feels secured, represented under an atmosphere of justice and equal right. This means an individual’s view is represented and his/her human rights respected. Jeong (2000) identified two types of peace – negative and positive. Negative peace is a state of absence of war or direct physical violence, because stability could be generated by oppressiveness (Wehr, 1979).  Positive peace is a state without war or direct violence, but in addition to that, is the absence of indirect structural violence and inclusion of social values and institutions. Doucet (1996) identified synonyms that could be used to understand peace as harmony, order, and justice.

The connection between sport and peace-building, drawing from the  above therefore, is that sport can be used to achieve peace for communities in conflict, through character formation of individuals and creation of a forum for interactions. Apart from reconstruction of political structures (democracy and constitution), judiciary system, support of free market and so on, peace-building is known to adopt to create a balanced fields for equal right and elimination of injustices which produces conflict. Sport could help peace builders in the transformation of the minds from violence, and stereotyping of former adversaries as enemies. How we build harmony, order, and encourage justice within the communities is a priority when adopting sports as a mechanism. Using sport as a tool would certainly bring about some new attitude such as discipline, confidence, leadership, tolerance, cooperation, and respect. This behavior training through sport is accomplished through programs, such as physical and psycho-social rehabilitation projects, aimed at engendering positive relationships between enemies and projects that seek to use values and inherent conflict potential of sporting competition to teach participants, responsibility, neutrality, equality, inclusivity, rule-based behavior. These anchors justify the trust that the United Nations has on sport it as able to help nations and individuals live in peaceful coexistence. It is fair to ask – would participants (sportsmen and women) alone make up the society? Would other members of the society not require such training that sport provides for its participants?

Football, for instance, has a large followership with club sides having their large fans base. Would it not be an incomplete result if sportsmen alone benefit from transformation training against stereotypes and prejudices and fans are left out? What would be the effects of sports on the supporters? The closest route to answering to these questions is by identifying what sports do (or football does) to intervene in conflict prevention and contribute to peace-building: One, organizers of sports training and competition aim to create space for people to meet and interact freely. Second, they create an atmosphere where through frequent contacts, friendship, and better understanding of two diverging ethnic groups/communities is acquired. Third, it attempts to break enemy identity placed on members of either ethnic group/communities in conflict or former adversaries. Sports (for instance, football) have the ability to create pleasure and with it, create the avenue for people to interact and access each other, in open communication and common activity. In Nigeria, therefore, football followership or fanaticism may create passions, emotional attachments required for people of like minds to interact across borders of ethnicity. Pay per-view centres could be an avenue for such interactions where open communications and stereotypes/ prejudices, inherited from older people and ancestors, are gradually broken. But how does this created atmosphere for interactions imbue tolerance, leadership, and respect for others, as well as cooperation responsibility, spirit of equality, and justice, fair play, and other rule-based behaviors in fans?

The research design adopted for this study was of the descriptive survey type, carried out qualitatively. The population constituted all the viewing fans of any English premiership club either at the pay per-view centres or at any club in Ibadan city, Oyo state, Nigeria. The sample population is the fans and supporters of English premiership in three locations, deliberately selected based on the ethnic heterogeneous nature of these areas. These areas are Agbowo, Kara in Bodija area, and Mokola all in Ibadan. Participatory observational techniques were used to collect data. Research assistants were recruited to observe patterns of ethnic relationships and behaviors during and after matches. Researchers also were able to participate in the viewing and support of clubs, often participating in arguments about some clubs, to observe their behaviors and reactions. During observations, research assistants noted the causes of violence and conflicts, emotional attachment and feelings towards other ethnics who supported the same club sides. Also observed and noted was how supporters from different ethnic groups are integrated by cheer feelings for the same football club. They also noted different manifestations of prejudice and discrimination, expressed towards other supporters of other football club sides, not minding sameness in ethnic or language groups with persons supporting opposite clubs. The data were analyzed using the content analysis.

Findings of the Study

Friends Club and Bar – Agbowo – University of Ibadan, Ibadan       
Friends Club and Bar is located few meters from the popular University of Ibadan. With just the expressway separating it from the University, Agbowo, as the name of the area is called, houses both indigenes (Yoruba) and non-indigenes, who are in majority. The multi-ethnic presence of the area is obvious. The university’s presence plays a role in this multi-ethnic nature of Agbowo. First, it serves as residential area for both the students, and workers of the university. Second, the presence of the institution has influenced the economic importance of Agbowo, attracting Nigerians of different ethnic groups to the area for economic and other social interests.

Residents of this area consist of three levels of economic status; low, middle, and upper class are represented here. In the same vein, present were three educational level of non-educated (illiterate), moderately educated, and literate. At Friends Club and Bar, patronage is enjoyed from all these groups who constitute ethnic groups in Nigeria. The club and bar, as part of its competitive strength, televises the British Premier League, the European Championship, and other football leagues in Europe. This service has attracted numerous regular customers who have grown over the years to recognize themselves as club members, and customers. These regular members have also developed informal fan clubs of premiership clubs, which they support passionately. Observation through participation shows that there are often conflicts, resulting from foul comments passed from members of one club fan to members of other clubs. This frequently leads to hot arguments, starting usually between two individuals, and degenerates into inter-group argument. There was, however, no case of violence throughout the period of observation. Those cases that may have degenerated into violence were quickly averted by those identified as elders of the fans.

Each club is constituted of some ceremonial leaders called “Baba” (a Yoruba word for “father”): for example, “Baba Chelsea”, “Baba Man U”, “Baba Liverpool”, and “Baba Arsenal”. These are the main four clubs with great followership here. Any match day featuring any of the four clubs is usually watched with keenness by both fans and non-fans alike. While the group whose club is playing, watch with positive attitudes to win, others are either supporting or praying for them to lose, depending on how either win or lose would favor their team. For example, in this season studied (2007/2008, Chelsea and Manchester United were rivals because they were both potential winners, drawing on points, until the last matches both of the premier league and champions’ leagues final decided the winner. The fans of both sides would pray for their rivals to lose, and they did this openly, announcing the fall of their rival teams before the match, and supporting the weaker teams against their “opposition” sides. As fans converge to view matches, they appear with high hopes and displayed their unflinching support for their teams, while recognizing their fellow fans and hailing their chairperson (Baba). Seats are often reserved for known regular fan members at the bar, especially for the Babas of each fan group, by members and the club proprietor.

The fans club usually consisted of people from different ethnic, social, and religious backgrounds. Regardless of these differences, fans are very passionate, showing no sign of ethnic, religious, and social segregation among themselves. In many cases, aggressions have been made by a tribesman against another in support of a non-tribesman, who is a member of the same fan club. Likewise, religious and social status and connections are dropped in favor of fan club “fraternity.” Segregations are obviously displayed by club fan members against others. When a fan member buys beer for bar members, his fan members are carefully selected and satisfied first after which members of other groups are handpicked, based on undefined criteria. The scene at Friends Club and Bar could be identified as one of those pay per-view centres with a difference in that it serves as both a viewing centre and a recreational centre where other sports as chess and other indoor games are played, but football support and fanaticism has great influence upon how friendship and social alignments have been formed in and out of the bar. For example, in some cases when members of a particular club fan celebrates a party, fellow fan members of the same club felt more committed and are treated specially at the party, not minding the ethnic, religious, and class differences that exists.

Kara pay-per-view centre, Bodija Market Area, Ibadan
Kara is an area near the most populous foodstuff market in Ibadan, the capital of Oyo state Nigeria, the area is habited by Yoruba indigenes, Hausa and Igbo traders, and other ethnic groups. The business activity in Bodija market is so large that all kinds of specialized trades and traders were present here. The level of criminality and hooliganism is high, while the educational levels of these residents are equally low, with majority being illiterates and barely literate. The social character of this area is undefined, as they are mixed with cultures of trade and ethnic and religious beliefs. This is not unexpected because of the multi-ethnic nature of the residents; for example the Hausa-Fulanis are known Muslims; Yorubas are both Muslims and Christians; as indigenes, Yorubas are more prominent with traditional worships, and the Igbos are mainly Christians. Kara is known for its inter-ethnic clashes and a pronounced inter-ethnic fear and tension. The viewing centre here inherited the tension and violence; this is obvious during matches. The level of tolerance is low and any slight offence leads to violence, Sometimes the police are called in to quell the situation, which often arises from intolerance between members of opposing clubs’ fans.

On a match day, members of fan clubs have separate sections of the auditorium for each fan club to seat. Each fan of the premiership club side is given recognition by other members as soon as he emerges into the viewing centre. On occasions, when any member is accompanied by a female friend or partner, other fan members considered her as their own friend and gave her special treatments; and in cases when a lady came unaccompanied, fans of any team she supports made sure she was protected and made comfortable. Although, the fan club is unconsciously formed, members participate in any event that promotes the awareness and fame of their football club. The spirit of solidarity displayed by club supporters in this viewing centre is high, and they extend it to their personal relationships. If a well known Chelsea fan celebrates any events, Chelsea fans are invited and donations are made to him. During the final of the European champions’ league between Manchester United and Chelsea, all Chelsea fans were mobilized to purchase a cow which was painted in Chelsea’s blue color, and a party to celebrate victory proposed.

The fans club consisted of members from different ethnic groups. In spite of ethnic tensions in the area, friendship between individuals from whatever ethnic groups were formed and sustained beyond the viewing centre. At the pay per-view centres, fans members showed no sign of ethnic differences and social divergence which existed outside the centre. They felt attached by their new-found platform of relationship, club identity

Pay Per-view Center Mokola
Mokola is one of the areas in Ibadan city which has a great presence of diverse ethnic groups. Normally a Yoruba indigenous area, other ethnic groups are visibly represented in the population – such as the Igbo, Hausa, Ibibio, Efik, Itsekiri, and Urhobos.  It is a pure residential area, having average economic value to the Ibadan people. It can be categorized as consisting of people of all economic, education, and occupational status, coupled with religious and socio-political identity. Mokola is relatively peaceful, with an average tolerance level. Aside political thuggery and clashes between political groups, violence was on the increase because of British premiership followership. Some cases of fighting and assaults had degenerated to inter-group violence between fans of the big four British premiership clubs. The areas proximity to the local stadium – Lekan Salami – has an impact in the fondness of football by residents. Youth football was still being organized competitively, with each team having its own followers and supporters within Mokola area. Football hooliganism is not strange here, through there has never been a known case of ethnic violence in the area in the past 20 your years, despite local street football clubs made up of all ethnic groups, and within such a team, ethnic discrimination was not obvious.

With great enthusiasm, for team victory and money betting, each supporter comes to the viewing centre. Fans of any of the big four premiership club sides go to the pay-view centre with friends, in ones and in twos. This does include female fans, as football followership has no gender barrier in the area. In the viewing centre, elderly ones are regarded as Baba (fathers of the fans club) and sometimes these Babas play the roles of peace brokers between youths whose angers rage due to common mockery and comments about their team by other team fans, after their team loses or wins their match. Each fan club was an unconscious organization, developed through frequent meetings and identification with fellow fans. This earned each member some recognition and each is indentified on the street, whether they view football together in the same viewing centre or not. Certain favors were gained by known fans, based on club identity. Beers are shared more frequently with anyone who identifies with one’s club as a fan. Friendships are made based on football fanaticism and solidarity.

Ethnicity, based on religion and cultural ancestry, is still obvious in the area but based on premiership followership, another ethnicity is strongly been formed, one which comprises all ethnic groups. It is not uncommon for parties to be called, after a good win or remarkable victory of one club over any of the big four teams in the premiership. The European champions’ league final, between Chelsea and Manchester United, was the height of support and expressions of club identity, as both club supporters made all efforts to solicit support from all other club fans that are not playing in the final – Liverpool and Arsenal. Often, it was with promises of an open party for all, as if the victory of their club depended on as many supporters as could be mobilized.

General Observation
On the streets and workplaces in Ibadan, it is not uncommon for people to have the logo of the clubs conspicuously on their clothing, cars, and even office desks. School notebooks and stickers carry logos of different club sides as well as pictures of star players on them. These souvenirs are bought as a mark of identification with the club side which they support, and for recognition by other fans alike. For example, on a good day in a traffic jam in Ibadan, cars bearing stickers of any of the big four premiership clubs are given considerations to join other faster lanes by fan of same club side which s/he claims with their stickers. The exchange of pleasantries is usually followed as if they have known each other before then.

From a personal experience with the police, the emotional attachment and solidarity which fans enjoy is crossing social boundaries into the justice. This researcher went to bail out a friend from the police station; the police officer on duty made all arrangements and facilitated the approval of the bail, just for my friend to view the Chelsea versus Manchester, because the both are fans of Chelsea football club. The surprise is that both men have not met before that day. Other observations are made in the economic sphere where patronage and discounts are gained because of club identity. Match making and choice of partners based upon club identity is becoming more common. Politicians and public office holders (Governors, Ministers, Senators and others even to the local government council level) have in recent times, openly declared the premiership club side which they support. The effect of this on their political ambition is often positive as they somehow endear themselves to the heart of fellow fans and gain their support. Although citizens are not as naïve as previously, politicians have tried to use this loyalty to gain advantages.

Discussion, Conclusions and Recommendation
The findings above demonstrate some indications that another kind of ethnicity is forming on the bases of football support/fanaticism. If the observations of Adam (1971), that ethnic identifications occur as a result of group mobilization in the struggle to gain or preserve benefits, and of Weber (1968), that ethnic group is a kind of subjective belief of presumed identity which is an expressed psychological feeling essential to motivate groups to act together over a long time, then a trend may be emerging in Nigeria as confirmed by this research. Fan club identity in Nigeria has grown in the two qualities of ethnicity as identified above. Where in multi-ethnic community, people begin to identify themselves beyond language, ancestral culture and religion, and even political geography, the nature of this ethnicity therefore may be described as having an integrative force for propagating an all inclusive action. Although informally and unconsciously established, the interest and bounding force for bringing diverse people together in lasting friendship and maintenance of their new identity is identifiable. Football support and fanaticism have developed an observable group psycho-emotional feeling among members of a fan club over a long period.

This expressed feeling has led to group actions and violence; its ability to propel individuals into conflict is high. Although violence is growing as a result of football support, it is yet not at an alarming rate. The causes of these conflict arguments, rough talks, mockery, and negative statements are also fueled by intolerance and impatience. Overzealous fans sometimes do not leave any considerations for other fan clubs when expressing their support and love for their own club side and will make it impossible for other people to have their respite, sometimes triggering others to challenge. The result of this is conflict and heightened tension at the viewing centre. Among the big four clubs of the British Premiership league, all have shown indications of inter-group conflict and prejudices as well as dislike. They seem to have carried it, above just leisure; pleasure and entertainment, to a level that resembles ethnic suspicions, and even. The consolation for this development is that it has been bringing people of diverse ethnic groups in Nigeria together.

In conclusion, it would be seen that football support has the ability to one integrate multiple ethnic groups, showing a great potential for peace-building and conflict transformation. The violent, conflict-promoting tendencies show an early warning sign for all peace-builders. Although conflict and violence cannot be avoided because of their ability to stir emotions and human desire for winning, football support will bring about the desired integration and unity that Nigeria desires. To gain in full the benefits of football supports and followership, however, some kind of peace education is sorely needed, education which teaches tolerance, mutual consideration, self control, speech control, human rights, and social orders, strengthening equality and justice among  sportsmen/women and viewers and supporters of football and other games alike. This kind of education will remind fans that it is all games and skill, and to accept and endure defeat. In the same vein, winners most be taught how to show friendship to fans of losing teams, in the spirit of win-win. Sports commentators, analysts, sports magazines, and associations must awaken, along with peace-builders, to attack this early warning of possible conflict. Sports programs on the media should include before the match and after the match, peace education to prevent any violence and engender peace and friendship.

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Henry Majaro-Majesty Bio

Henry Majaro-Majesty holds a Ph.D from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. His research interests include peace building and conflict transformation, community development, adult education, and communication. He has contributed in learned journals both in Nigeria and abroad. His major contribution to learning have been the development of a model of peace-building and community building called, “Cementisation”, which he has also applied to literacy teaching

Email: homjmj@yahoo. com


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