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How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely…

How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization (2004)

by Franklin Foer

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Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
This proved to be a cartoonish, gauche, reflection of the beautiful game, a pseud-driven history or, worse, a representation through local color. It was horrible. Mr. Foer does not understand football; his grasp of geo-politics is predicated on gross types and childish extraploations. ( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
This book was very interesting and I read through it quite quickly. It is a series of essays about how soccer, and more specifically love for a particular local soccer team, has affected politics, class identification and ethnic animosities in different countries and cities, mostly in Europe but also in Brazil, Iran and, finally, the U.S. The ways in which politicians, corrupt (mostly) and otherwise have used soccer clubs as bases for political power and the ways in which ethnic hatreds have been stokes and/or exacerbated around them make for frequently fascinating and informative reading. But Foer's thesis that taken together these examples provide a coherent theory of globalization seems forced, to me, perhaps a "unifying theme" suggested by an editor or publisher. Each chapter has a title beginning with "How Soccer Explains . . . ." As in "How Soccer Explains the Sentimental Hooligans," for example. Those chapter titles, too, seem a publisher's conceit rather than an author's wish. More often than actually explaining the cultural phenomenon Foer is describing in any given chapter, soccer comes across in the chapters as a symptom of that phenomenon. So while sneezing might be a symptom of my hay fever, I wouldn't write a chapter called "How Sneezing Explains Hay Fever."

That said, almost all of the individual chapters are informative and enlightening. Particularly interesting and horrifying to me was the early chapter about how soccer was used as a rallying point for ethnic hatred and murder in Serbia at the time of the Balkan Wars. The book was published in 2004, and not all of Foer's cultural observations still seem to ring true. His predictions about the continuing liberalization of society in Iran seem to me on thin ice at this point, for example. Overall, though, there's lots to learn here about Brazil, Italy, Spain, Serbia, Scotland, England, the Ukraine and other spots around the globe where soccer is a mania that's often intertwined with politics, big business and, yes, the effects of globalization. ( )
  rocketjk | Oct 27, 2018 |
Eh. It seemed like a nice premise to read about (ie the theory of warring countries and McDonald's), but it's pretty boring. I got more political and sociological insights into some of the groups discussed but I didn't get the connection to soccer. ( )
  acciolibros | Feb 11, 2018 |
Ignoring the misleading title and glaring error regarding Barcelona's motto, I thoroughly enjoyed this book's exploration of soccer around the world. ( )
  BenBeach | Aug 10, 2017 |
I really, really, REALLY wanted to like this book more. ( )
  apomonis | Jun 2, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0060731427, Paperback)

The global power of soccer might be a little hard for Americans, living in a country that views the game with the same skepticism used for the metric system and the threat of killer bees, to grasp fully. But in Europe, South America, and elsewhere, soccer is not merely a pastime but often an expression of the social, economic, political, and racial composition of the communities that host both the teams and their throngs of enthusiastic fans. New Republic editor Franklin Foer, a lifelong devotee of soccer dating from his own inept youth playing days to an adulthood of obsessive fandom, examines soccer's role in various cultures as a means of examining the reach of globalization. Foer's approach is long on soccer reportage, providing extensive history and fascinating interviews on the Rangers-Celtic rivalry and the inner workings of AC Milan, and light on direct discussion of issues like world trade and the exportation of Western culture. But by creating such a compelling narrative of soccer around the planet, Foer draws the reader into these sport-mad societies, and subtly provides the explanations he promises in chapters with titles like "How Soccer Explains the New Oligarchs", "How Soccer Explains Islam's Hope", and "How Soccer Explains the Sentimental Hooligan." Foer's own passion for the game gives his book an infectious energy but still pales in comparison to the religious fervor of his subjects. His portraits of legendary hooligans in Serbia and Britain, in particular, make the most die-hard roughneck New York Yankees fan look like a choirboy in comparison. Beyond the thugs, Foer also profiles Nigerian players living in the Ukraine, Iranian women struggling against strict edicts to attend matches, and the parallel worlds of Brazilian soccer and politics from which Pele emerged and returned. Foer posits that globalization has eliminated neither local cultural identities nor violent hatred among fans of rival teams, and it has not washed out local businesses in a sea of corporate wealth nor has it quelled rampant local corruption. Readers with an interest in international economics are sure to like How Soccer Explains the World, but soccer fans will love it. --John Moe

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:19 -0400)

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"Soccer is a perfect window into the crosscurrents of today's world ... Franklin Foer takes us on a tour through the world of soccer, shattering the myths of our new global age along the way"--jacket.

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