International

'Football To Fight Against War': South Sudan Joins FIFA

After decades of war, football signals hope. In this photo, South Sudanese soldiers travel by truck near the frontline with Sudan on April 24. i i

hide captionAfter decades of war, football signals hope. In this photo, South Sudanese soldiers travel by truck near the frontline with Sudan on April 24.

Goran Tomasevic/Reuters/Landov
After decades of war, football signals hope. In this photo, South Sudanese soldiers travel by truck near the frontline with Sudan on April 24.

After decades of war, football signals hope. In this photo, South Sudanese soldiers travel by truck near the frontline with Sudan on April 24.

Goran Tomasevic/Reuters/Landov

For South Sudan, 2011 was monumental. After decades of war, South Sudan became its own nation.

But as NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton has told us, that process of emerging from a conflict with its northern neighbor that left it poor and isolated, has been fraught with more fighting.

Yet sometimes there are signs of hope and normalcy: On Sunday, Ofeibea reported that despite continued bombings, children headed to school. And today we have news that during their Congress, the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) admitted South Sudan as its 209th member.

That means South Sudan is now eligible to play in the qualifiers for the 2015 Africa Cup as well as the 2018 World Cup.

There's not much more we can add to what the chief soccer official in South Sudan said during his acceptance speech. The BBC reports:

"'I want to assure you that we are going to follow the statutes and regulations of Fifa and obey the law of our good game,' said South Sudan FA president Oliver Mori Benjamin in an acceptance speech.

"'In particular, we are still suffering from war, so we promise that we will develop football to fight against war, hunger and poverty.

"'I want to assure you that in my state in South Sudan, Abyei, we are still in a war zone but I promise in a few days, we are going to raise the flag of Fifa in Abyei for the good of our people.'"

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