Ohene Djan. A Pan-Africanist activist taking over FIFA?

By Claire Nicolas, Philippe Vonnard

In 2004, the Accra National Stadium was renamed after Ohene Djan, who was Ghana’s first director of sports from 1960 to 1966. However, in 2011, the Accra Metropolitan Assembly chose to revert to the sports arena’s old name, Accra Sports Stadium, arguing that it was a city stadium and not a national stadium. It seems that Ohene Djan is still making a name for himself nowadays, and this is probably because his deeds went way beyond Ghana’s borders. Appointed as director of sports in 1960 by Prime Minister and President Kwame Nkrumah, during his six years in this position he embodied the coming of age of Africa’s political role within global football. He worked to expand diplomatic sporting ties that were, until then, largely confined to Europe and South America.
In this paper, we wish to consider Djan’s biographical trajectory as a meeting point between football—national and global—on one hand and as a political and sporting trajectory on the other hand. Here, Djan’s biography is less a tale of organizational, political, personal, and sporting deeds than a wealth of information that allows us to question FIFA’s political and sporting model, claimed to be apolitical and elite.
This research is based on sources gathered from the archives of the Fédération internationale de football association (FIFA), alongside colonial and postcolonial archive material collected from the National Archives of Ghana and articles from sporting and generalist Ghanaian newspapers. These articles shed light on events that have no traceable trail in the archives, as well as enabling us to examine Djan’s public presence.

  • history
  • football
  • Ghana
  • FIFA
  • international organizations
  • pan-Africanism
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