Golazo!: The Beautiful Game from the Aztecs to the World Cup: The Complete History of How Soccer Shaped Latin America

Overview

The definitive book about the national identities, heroes, and dramatic stories from Latin American soccer throughout history?in time for the 2014 World Cup.

?Golazo!? means ?amazing goal!? And the word  perfectly captures the unique, exuberant, all-encompassing, passionate role that soccer plays in Latin America.

Andreas Campomar offers readers the definitive history of Latin American soccer from the early, deadly Mesoamerican ballgames to the multi-billion dollar ...

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Golazo!: The Beautiful Game from the Aztecs to the World Cup: The Complete History of How Soccer Shaped Latin America

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Overview

The definitive book about the national identities, heroes, and dramatic stories from Latin American soccer throughout history—in time for the 2014 World Cup.

“Golazo!” means “amazing goal!” And the word  perfectly captures the unique, exuberant, all-encompassing, passionate role that soccer plays in Latin America.

Andreas Campomar offers readers the definitive history of Latin American soccer from the early, deadly Mesoamerican ballgames to the multi-billion dollar international business it is today. Golazo! explores the intersection of soccer, politics, economics, high and low culture, and how passion for a game captured a continent.

Latin American soccer will be in the global spotlight more than ever in the coming years—both the next World Cup (2014) and the Summer Olympics (2016) will be hosted in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, a country for which soccer is not just a passion but a way of life. The triumphs, the heartbreaks, the origins and the future, the political and the personal—Golazo! is the perfect book for new fans and diehard followers around the world.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
06/01/2014
Campomar's (publishing director, Constable & Robinson) history of Latin American soccer does a wonderful job of teasing apart the various narratives and influences that have shaped the sport. This chronicle is thorough but also readable, guiding the reader from early Aztec ball games through the dizzying complexities of inter- and intranational rivalries and the advent of global football. All of this is done while explaining soccer's place in the larger history of the world, and the role the game played in the development of national identities by Latin Americans as they became more and more enamored of a pastime that was at least partially developed by their colonizers. In this sense, the book is a creative and rare combination of what are normally several distinct topics. It is a work of truly ambitious scope and although the reader may at times be bogged down by the sheer volume of detail on minor players and teams it is successful. VERDICT This work will satisfy not only fans of soccer but anyone interested in examining the history of the world through an unusual lens.—John Helling, Bloomfield-Eastern Greene Cty. P.L., IN
Kirkus Reviews
2014-04-21
The most comprehensive history of soccer in the part of the world in which it may well mean the most.Campomar, publishing director of Constable & Robinson in the U.K., provides a thorough, engaging history of the development of fútbol and its place in Latin American society. The author focuses mostly on the 20th century, when the game went from being an English import geared primarily toward British expatriates and elites to being the domain of the masses, who worshipped their heroes, condemned their goats, and filled the terraces for their club and national teams. Campomar also illustrates the way soccer reflected and sometimes fueled political developments across the region. He covers a large geographic swath including Mexico and Central America but gives the bulk of his attention to the countries of South America, where he interweaves the story of the local club game into that of the national teams, which have allowed the region to take its place, even if only for 90 or so minutes at a time, with the Europeans. Clearly timed for the summer's World Cup in Brazil, the book illustrates how the Río de la Plata nations of Uruguay and Argentina represented the continent's pre-eminent powers through the first half of the 20th century, with the Brazilians rising to dominance only in the 1950s. Campomar effectively brings out the color and passion for the game, its evocative language, its artistic power and its sometimes-martial ugliness. While the author occasionally tries to do too much, he accomplishes his task with verve.Brazil will be under enormous pressure to win this summer, and Uruguay and Argentina will be in the running. That will provide opportunities for the updated paperback edition of this fine, scintillating history.
The Barnes & Noble Review

Is soccer the most sociologically resonant of sports? I don't pose that question lightly. As anyone following the protests in Brazil prior to the 2014 World Cup (or, for that matter, the debates over whether awarding the 2022 World Cup to Qatar was a tragic mistake that should be corrected) can attest, the sport's populist appeal and global revenue can sometimes clash. The space between them allows for a number of stories to be told, whether about impoverished players achieving archetypal fame and fortune, watching how issues of race and class can emerge on the field, or the ways in which concepts of national identity can be reshaped. Enter Golazo! by Andreas Campomar (publishing director for the British publishing house Constable & Robinson), an extensive history of soccer's impact upon its long-flourishing stronghold in Latin America.

Campomar here joins a laudable group. In 2006's How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization, editor of The New Republic Franklin Foer used phenomena from the world of soccer to elucidate numerous points about international relations. Simon Kuper has written a host of books, including Ajax: The Dutch, the War and Soccer against the Enemy, which find larger political resonances in clashes of club and national teams. David Wangerin's Soccer in a Football World makes the case that soccer's history in the United States goes back to long before the late-1970s heyday of the North American Soccer League, and uncovers personalities and histories that cry out for a spotlight of their own.

In Golazo!, Campomar quickly establishes his knowledge of the game with a prologue that finds him visiting his father in Uruguay and cheering on the Diego Forlán/Luis Suárez–led national team that made it to the semifinals of the 2010 World Cup. For this book, Campomar has found a style that allows him to juxtapose literary references with observations on the sport. Authors referenced include Eduardo Galeano (author of the poetically rendered Soccer in Sun and Shadow, Christopher Hitchens, Octavio Paz, and noted nonfan Jorge Luis Borges.

Though the book's subtitle references Latin America, Campomar's focus is primarily on Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay. Given the prominence of those nations in the sport, it's a logical choice: Campomar finds the longest and richest history of the game in those nations. He begins in the time of the Aztecs, citing historical records of ullamaliztli, a game played with a rubber ball on a court with two goals. It is here that Campomar finds parallels in soccer, both in the style of play and in the way that it captivated audiences centuries before "the beautiful game" made its debut. Campomar notes that soccer as we currently know it came to Latin America via the British colonial presence there in the nineteenth century. He proceeds to document its ties to British social clubs and the growing establishment of teams, which often reflected societal divisions. (It would be years — decades, for some — before these clubs featured players who were not of European descent.) Play across continents also factors into Campomar's account: he notes a 1909 tour that found Tottenham Hotspur and Everton crossing the Atlantic to play a series of matches in South America.

Campomar charts how the sport's handling of race shifted over time, as boundaries within different nations gradually wore down. He examines the effects of Brazilian president Getúlio Vargas's brasilidade policy on the sport: "Football was also seen as an important prop of national identity, and the country's unique mix of Amerindian, African, and European cultures was wholly encouraged." It's in the moments where Campomar finds the places where the cultural ramifications of nations struggling with questions of national identity and a mania for soccer collide that this book becomes most intriguing. There's a brief section detailing a number of Argentinean soccer films from the late 1940s that served as nationalistic propaganda while still hitting the appropriate sports movie clichés. Throughout Golazo!, Campomar carefully walks the line between observing national characteristics and deconstructing them. He seems most at home when delving into Uruguay's history of soccer: after their upset victory over Brazil in the 1950 World Cup, leaving the host nation reeling, Uruguay's captain, Obdulio Varela, went out drinking with Brazilian supporters. Campomar describes this as "a very Uruguayan victory: triumph shot through with an innate sadness."

(For an alternative perspective on some of the same events, 2014's Why Soccer Matters, by Brazilian legend Pelé, offers a player's-eye view of several decades' worth of Brazilian soccer. Structured around a series of World Cups, the book charts the evolution of the Brazilian National Team over time, from their loss in 1950 to the team that would dominate the sport in the 1960s.)

As the history recounted in Golazo! moves closer to the present day, certain arcs take hold, sometimes spanning across nations. In the 1960s and '70s, it's the progression of various governments toward authoritarianism; Campomar's account of a match between Chile and the Soviet Union scheduled to be played after the coup that brought Pinochet to power is one of the book's most wrenching sections. For the 1980s, he focuses on the larger-than-life figure of onetime star midfielder Diego Maradona, whose journeyman moves in and out of various European clubs and struggles with drug addiction on the international stage contain redemption narrative after redemption narrative. While Golazo!'s focus is more on teams than individuals, the spotlight on Maradona is a welcome one.

"Latin America remains the continent to which the rest of the world looks for the romanticism and the lyricism of the game," Campomar writes towards the end of the book. He makes this case throughout, always keeping an eye on the global context of the sport. The scale of this book is essentially high level: I suspect that books can and will be written about national and club teams that inhabit each chapter in more minute depth. But Golazo! is an enlightening, lively work, one that never shortchanges the sport or the nations at its heart.

Reviewer: Tobias Carroll

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594485862
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 5/6/2014
  • Pages: 496
  • Sales rank: 394,512
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Andreas Campomar was educated at Cambridge University, where he studied Modern History. He is currently Publishing Director at Constable & Robinson in the United Kingdom. He reviews for The Daily Telegraph, Financial Times, Times Literary Supplement, and many others. He is the son of a Uruguayan diplomat and a descendant of Dr. Enrique Buero, the man who brought the first World Cup in Montevideo and later became vice president of FIFA. He lives in London.

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