One of the world's most isolated countries; despite a population of close to 50 million, only an estimated 10,000 have access to the Internet (source: Reporters sans frontières).
Andrew Marshall, in his book The Trouser People: A Story of Burma in the Shadow of Empire (Washington, D.C.: Counterpoint; London: Penguin, 2002), has retraced the journeys of Englishman George Scott, Burma's "Father of Football" (see the Global Game's review). Marshall also surveys contemporary football, according to reviewer Brian Bennett ("Power Plays: In Search of Burmese Football's Footprints," Time Asia, 11 March 2002): "The football stadium is the only place in Burma where five thousand rabblerousers can jeer, 'Fool, fool, fool!' at a member of the government without being hauled off to the stockade." ("Trouser people" refers to the Burmese appellation for the British colonialists, who—modern-day sarong fancier David Beckham excluded—wore pants. The Global Game has reprinted an article on the Burmese game, which originally appeared in Thailand-based politics and culture magazine The Irrawaddy (Shawn L. Nance, "Caught Offside," April 2002).
The Burmese sport and football press,
along with the entire national media, seems to be under the military
junta's scrutiny. As
reported by Reporters
the editor and three staff members of journal First Eleven were
detained in July 2003, allegedly for inquiries into Burmese football's
international connections; they were later sentenced
to death on charges of treason. RSF and the Burma Media Association
appealed the sentences on 22 April 2004, the RSF stating in a press
release that editor Zaw Thet Htwe's "arrest
is believed linked to the success of his sports magazine, which
and its independent editorial line.
Both the dictatorship and opposition, however, appeared to applaud the Burmese team's rise in form at the 2004 Tiger Cup, at which the side reached the semifinals for the first time since 1996. In The Irrawaddy, Wai Moe reported that some 6,000 supported the team in its group-stage match against hosts Malaysia, some hoisting the fighting-peacock flag of the democracy movement ("Soccer and Burmese Nationalism," 17 Dec 2004).
The Library of Congress hosts a handy resource page with links to information on Burmese politics and culture. For a survey of assaults on, deaths of and legal actions related to sports journalism—regularly updated—see the article at playthegame.org (Kirsten Sparre, "The Dangers of Sports Journalism").
Page last updated on Wednesday, November 23, 2005 11:02 -0500 GMT. To add a resource and/or link to this page, or to report a broken link, please e-mail The Global Game.