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Rainbow warrior

— South Africa


In the first of a series on World Cup players, nations and managers, Monocle looks at South African Matthew Booth. He’s an unlikely poster boy for the tournament but his tough tackling and marriage to a top black fashion designer mean he has the popularity and power to unite the nation.

2010 World Cup, Apartheid, Football, South Africa

When visitors watch South Africa’s ­national football team play for the first time there is an uncomfortable moment when the ball approaches the only white man in the side. Boos ring out across the stadium. This doesn’t appear to be the post-apartheid rainbow nation the television adverts promote. Or is it? The overwhelmingly black crowd may sound like they are jeering, but they are actually cheering. The word they yell is “Booth”, strung out for several seconds, celebrating the man who has become the unlikely face of South Africa’s World Cup…


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