14 June 2014

Soccer, war and globalization

In light of the many commentaries, political, sports, social and otherwise, I recalled two books that made me altered my view of soccer, for very different reasons.

The first book, The Soccer War, is by the Polish journalist, Ryszard Kapuscinski. Born in 1932, he covered civil unrest, revolutions and coups, most notably in Africa, Latin America and the Middle East from the 1950s to the 1980s. The soccer war is a tribute to his dispatches, the back stories to the news articles carrying his tales to a European audience. His work had been under scrutiny for a while, with some doubting the complete veracity of his writings; nonetheless, Kapuscinski fully embraced the cultures in the countries in which he traveled and certainly, did not always return unscathed. The chapter for which the book is name deals with a best-of-three series of soccer matches in 1969 between two Latin American nations and what transpired to put these countries at each other's throats.

The second is How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization by Franklin Foer. It came out in 2004, when the notion of globalization was losing its stead as the topic du jour, the buzz that everyone was claiming would bring economic parity and a concept from which all nations would benefit. Foer dissects this notion using soccer: examining clans/sects and tribal divisions, economics and the effects of globalization and the concept of, as he terms it, "old-fashioned" nationalism. He travels for eight months across the globe in search of answers to the above topics and comes away with surprising insight and lovely travelogue .

And just in time for the World Cup was a reissue of Soccernomics: Why England Loses, Why Germany and Brazil Win, and Why the U.S., Japan, Australia, Turkey--and Even Iraq--Are Destined to Become the Kings of the World's Most Popular Sport by Simon Kuper and Steven Syzmanski, first published in 2009 (I disagree with that part about Iraq given the recent headlines). But they do advocate for the U.S. sending players to Europe to play and they are all for hiring European coaches....just saying....

You could also give Soccer Against the Enemy: How the World's Most Popular Sport Starts and Fuels Revolutions and Keeps Dictators in Power a chance to impress (also by Simon Kuper) or go even further with Brazil's Dance with the Devil: The World Cup, The Olympics, and the Fight for Democracy by Dave Zirin.
Or you could keep it simple and just read this. 


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