There’s some reason for the army to worry about winning those hearts as several allegations of human rights violations throughout the years of Boko Haram’s insurgency have likely dented trust in the army. The most damning allegations came back in June 2015, when an Amnesty International report (pdf) alleged that the army had “extrajudicially executed” over 1,200 people and “arbitrarily arrested” at least 20,000 people most of which were young men and boys. Boko Haram, like many terrorist groups, has likely thrived on the discord between angry youth and law enforcement agents to swell its ranks.

The  army’s choice of soccer is particularly crucial. Boko Haram’s ideology is to stand against Western education and values—including soccer—and the group has attacked local soccer viewing centers killing tens of fans watching European league matches.

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