Sport under apartheid
By the 1930s, Association football mirrored the balkanised society of South Africa; football was divided into numerous institutions based on race: the (White) South African Football Association, the South African Indian Football Association (SAIFA), the South African African Football Association (SAAFA) and its rival the South African Bantu Football Association, and the South African Coloured Football Association (SACFA). Lack of funds to provide proper equipment would be noticeable in regards to black amateur football matches; this revealed the unequal lives Africans were subject to, in contrast to Whites, who were obviously much better off financially. Apartheid's social engineering made it more difficult to compete across racial lines. Thus, in an effort to centralise finances, the federations merged in 1951, creating the South African Soccer Federation (SASF), which brought Black, Indian, and Coloured national associations into one body that opposed apartheid. This was generally opposed more and more by the growing apartheid government, and with urban segregation being reinforced with ongoing racist policies, it was harder to play football along these racial lines. In 1956, the Pretoria regime, the administrative capital of South Africa passed the first apartheid sports policy; by doing so, it emphasised the White-led government's opposition to inter-racialism.
While football was plagued by racism, it also played a role in protesting apartheid and its policies. With the international bans from FIFA and other major sporting events, South Africa would be in the spotlight internationally. In a 1977 survey, white South Africans ranked the lack of international sport as one of the three most damaging consequences of apartheid. By the mid-1950s, Black South Africans would also use media to challenge the "racialisation" of sports in South Africa; anti-apartheid forces had begun to pinpoint sport as the "weakness" of white national morale. Black journalists for the Johannesburg Drum magazine were the first to give the issue public exposure, with an intrepid special issue in 1955 that asked, "Why shouldn't our blacks be allowed in the SA team?" As time progressed, international standing with South Africa would continue to be strained. In the 1980s, as the oppressive system was slowly collapsing the ANC and National Party started negotiations on the end of apartheid. Football associations also discussed the formation of a single, non-racial controlling body. This unity process accelerated in the late 1980s and led to the creation, in December 1991, of an incorporated South African Football Association. On 3 July 1992, FIFA finally welcomed South Africa back into international football.
Sport has long been an important part of life in South Africa, and the boycotting of games by international teams had a profound effect on the white population, perhaps more so than the trade embargoes did. After the re-acceptance of South Africa's sports teams by the international community, sport played a major unifying role between the country's races. Mandela's open support of the previously white-dominated rugby fraternity when South Africa hosted and won the 1995 Rugby World Cup went a long way to repairing broken race relations.