How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization

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Overview

Religious, economic, political and ethnic divisions around the world are dramatically illuminated using the world's most popular sport as a lens and metaphor. A groundbreaking work.

Soccer is much more than a game, or even a way of life. In fact, it's a perfect window into the cross–currents of today's world, with all of its joys and sorrows. Soccer clubs don't represent geographic areas; they stand for social classes and political ideologies. And unlike baseball or tennis, ...

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Overview

Religious, economic, political and ethnic divisions around the world are dramatically illuminated using the world's most popular sport as a lens and metaphor. A groundbreaking work.

Soccer is much more than a game, or even a way of life. In fact, it's a perfect window into the cross–currents of today's world, with all of its joys and sorrows. Soccer clubs don't represent geographic areas; they stand for social classes and political ideologies. And unlike baseball or tennis, soccer is freighted with the weight of ancient hatreds and history. It's a sport with real stakes –– one that is capable of ruining regimes and launching liberation movements.In this remarkably insightful, wide–ranging work of reportage, Franklin Foer takes us on a surprising tour through the world of soccer, shattering the myths of our new global age. Instead of destroying local cultures, as the left predicted, globalization has revived tribalism. Far from the triumph of capitalism that the right predicted, it has entrenched corruption. From Brazil to Bosnia, and Italy to Iran, this is an eye–opening chronicle of how a beautiful sport and its fanatical followers can highlight the fault lines of a society, whether it's terrorism, poverty, anti–Semitism, or radical Islam –– issues that now have an impact on all of us. Filled with blazing intelligence, colourful characters, wry humour, and an equal passion for soccer and humanity, How Soccer Explains the World is an utterly original book that makes sense of our troubled times.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Most journalists researching globalization spend their time at posh international conferences; the New Republic's Frank Foer does his legwork in working class bars and soccer stadiums. This hands-on journalist argues that soccer can be viewed as a lens into the new global age, exposing societal fault lines in nations from Brazil to Bosnia, from Ireland to Iran. Many of Foer's conclusions are counterintuitive: He claims, for example, that globalization has revived tribalism and entrenched corruption.
Publishers Weekly
Foer, a New Republic editor, scores a game-winning goal with this analysis of the interchange between soccer and the new global economy. The subtitle is a bit misleading, though: he doesn't really use soccer to develop a theory; instead, he focuses on how examining soccer in different countries allows us to understand how international forces affect politics and life around the globe. The book is full of colorful reporting, strong characters and insightful analysis: In one of the most compelling chapters, Foer shows how a soccer thug in Serbia helped to organize troops who committed atrocities in the Balkan War-by the end of the war, the thug's men, with the acquiescence of Serbian leaders, had killed at least 2,000 Croats and Bosnians. Then he bought his own soccer club and, before he was gunned down in 2000, intimidated other teams into losing. Most of the stories aren't as gruesome, but they're equally fascinating. The crude hatred, racism and anti-Semitism on display in many soccer stadiums is simply amazing, and Foer offers context for them, including how current economic conditions are affecting these manifestations. In Scotland, the management of some teams have kept religious hatreds alive in order to sell tickets and team merchandise. But Foer, a diehard soccer enthusiast, is no anti-globalist. In Iran, for example, he depicts how soccer works as a modernizing force: thousands of women forced police to allow them into a men's-only stadium to celebrate the national team's triumph in an international match. One doesn't have to be a soccer fan to truly appreciate this absorbing book. (July) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
The ironic title is certainly audacious, but this book does not disappoint even though it fails to deliver on the full potential of what it promises. Interestingly, the truth freelancer Foer most helpfully finds in soccer is not globalization but its older and sometimes murderously persistent converse, nationalism, as engrossing chapters on professional teams in Serbia, Italy, and Spain and the commercialization of English hooliganism show in complex detail. Foer's look at the religious and ethnic sectarianism behind rival Glasgow football clubs should be required reading for stateside Irvine Welsh devotees. Indeed, except for a history of an interwar Jewish team based in Vienna, which saps some of the book's narrative energy, each chapter is a small journalistic masterpiece. That each can stand on its own is partly a drawback, for the book lacks the sustained, treatise-like argument that such a title would need were it more manifestly earnest. Written for open-minded but soccer-indifferent American readers, this book is recommended for all public and academic libraries. Scott H. Silverman, Bryn Mawr Coll. Lib., PA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A novel look at how the world is everywhere becoming more alike, and everywhere more different, as people seek to define themselves through football. "I suck at soccer," young New Republic staffer Foer offers by way of an opening. And why not? He's an American, and Americans see soccer-what the rest of the world calls "football"-differently. Where in Italy or Brazil or Kenya, say, it's a working-class sport laden with working-class aspirations, in the US it's inverted: "Here, aside from Latino immigrants, the professional classes follow the game most avidly and the working class couldn't give a toss about it." Yet everywhere the game is politicized as none other: In the US, "soccer moms" are alternately reviled and courted while reactionary politicos insist that soccer is fundamentally un-American (and probably socialist, too, as Jack Kemp once urged). In Scotland, Foer writes, the game affords a screen behind which to play out fantastic anti-Catholic hatreds. (Glasgow, Foer brightly adds, provides a fine rebuttal to the capitalist theory that "once a society becomes economically advanced, it becomes politically advanced-liberal, tolerant, democratic.") In the heart of the former Yugoslavia, where the soccer hooligans are so tough that they regularly beat up their own teams, professional football has provided shibboleths by which to separate and massacre Croats, Bosnians, Slovenians, and other non-Serbian types. In Spain, football arenas still resound with echoes of the civil war of the 1930s. In the Middle East, the game provides a means of expressing anti-fundamentalist sentiment. And so on. One day soccer/football will be played everywhere, Foer hints, and fans in Benin and Burlingtonwill cheer players in Belgrade and Botswana; but in each place, even as the sport remakes the planet, those big and little cultural differences will remain, perhaps some day to provoke future wars, revolutions, or renaissances. Though the globalism thread sometimes disappears, the author is unfailingly interesting. Lively and provocative-even for those who just don't get what FIFA is all about. Agent: Raphael Sagalyn/Sagalyn Literary Agency
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780066212340
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 6/29/2004
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Read an Excerpt

How Soccer Explains the World

An Unlikely Theory of Globalization
By Foer, Franklin

HarperCollins Publishers

ISBN: 0066212340

Chapter One

How Soccer Explains
the Gangster's Paradise

Red Star Belgrade is the most beloved, most successful soccer team in Serbia. Like nearly every club in Europe and Latin America, it has a following of unruly fans capable of terrific violence. But at Red Star the violent fans occupy a place of honor, and more than that. They meet with club officials to streamline the organizational flow chart of their gangs. Their leaders receive stipends. And as part of this package, they have access to office space in the team's headquarters in the uppermiddle- class neighborhood of Topcider.

The gangs have influence, in large measure, because they've won it with intimidation. A few months before I arrived in Belgrade to learn about the club's complicity in the Balkan Wars of the 1990s, Red Star fan clubs had burst into the team's training session. With bats, bars, and other bludgeons, they beat three of their own players. After their havoc, they aren't typically shy about advertising their accomplishments. In this instance, the hooligans told reporters bluntly that they could "no longer tolerate lack of commitment on the pitch." It took only one phone call to organize an interview with a handful of them in their first-floor meeting room at the Red Star headquarters.

The Belgrade neighborhood around Red Star is cartoonishly ominous. An enormous gaggle of crows resides on the stadium's roof. When goals are scored and the crowd erupts, the birds flee -- across town, it's possible to gauge the results of a game based on presence or absence of an ornithological cloud above the skyline. On the other side of the street from the stadium, the family of Arkan, the most notorious warlord and gangster in Serb history, lives in a castle he constructed, a nouveau riche monstrosity with tiers of towers and turrets. When I loiter near the house for too long, a large man in a leather jacket emerges and inquires about my business. Because of the atrocities committed by Arkan's men, I describe myself as a lost tourist, nervously ask him for directions, and walk away briskly. On the evening of my visit, the sky is gunmetal.

My translator had arranged for me to meet with Draza, a leader of a Red Star fan club that calls itself the Ultra Bad Boys. He had persuaded him with the overblown promise that an interview would bring glory unto the club and world renown unto the achievements of the Red Star fans. Six of Draza's loquacious colleagues join him. At first glance, the Bad Boys look entirely unworthy of the first part of their name and too worthy of the second. Aside from the big red tattoos of their gang name on their calves, they seem like relatively upstanding young men. Draza wears a fleece jacket and chinos. His head of overgrown yet obviously manicured hair has the aura of a freshman philosophy student. As it turns out, he is a college student, swamped with preparations for exams. His comrades aren't any more menacing. One of them has a bowl haircut, a pudgy face, and an oversized ski parka that he never removes -- he looks like the kind of guy who's been shoved into his fair share of lockers.

Perhaps to increase their credibility, the Bad Boys have brought along a gray-haired man called Krle, who wears a ratty black San Antonio Spurs jacket. Krle's sinewy frame gives the impression that he fills his leisure time with pull-ups on a door frame in his flat. Many years of living a hooligan life have aged him prematurely. (When I ask his age and occupation, he changes the subject.) Unlike the naïve enthusiasm exhibited by the teens, who greet me warmly, Krle blares indifference. He tells my translator that he has only joined our interview because Draza insisted. His one gesture of bonhomie is to continually pour me warm Serbian beer from a plastic bottle. After I taste the beer, it hardly seems like such a friendly gesture. But because of his angry gray eyes, I find myself drinking glass after glass.

Krle serves as senior advisor to the group, a mentor to the aspiring hooligans. Putting aside his intense glare and unfriendly demeanor, I was actually glad for his presence. My interest in Red Star centers on the 1990s, his heyday as thug, when the fan clubs played a pivotal role in the revival of Serbian nationalism -- the idea that the Serbs are eternal victims of history who must fight to preserve a shred of their dignity. With little prodding, Draza speaks openly about the connections. Unfortunately, his monologue doesn't last long. Exerting his authority with volatile glances and brusque interruptions, Krle seizes control of the conversation. He answers questions curtly.

"Who do you hate most?"

A pause for a few seconds' worth of consideration. "A Croatian, a cop: it doesn't make a difference. I'd kill them all."

"What's your preferred method for beating a guy?"

"Metal bars, a special kick that breaks a leg, when a guy's not noticing." He sharply stomps down a leg, an obviously well-practiced move.

Because the beer has kicked in, I try to get closer to the reason for my visit. "I noticed that you call Arkan 'commandant.' Could you tell me a little more about how he organized the fans?"

His look is one of deep offense and then unmitigated fury. Even before the translation comes, his meaning is clear. "I shouldn't be answering your questions. You're an American. And your country bombed us. You killed good Serb men."

As good a reason as any to redirect the conversation to another topic. In an aside to my translator, which he didn't tell me about until after our interview, Krle announces, "If I met this American asshole on the street, I'd beat the shit out of him." Krle then drops out of the conversation. At first, he stands impatiently on the far side of the room ...

Continues...

Excerpted from How Soccer Explains the World by Foer, Franklin Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Prologue 1

1 How Soccer Explains: the Gangster's Paradise 7

2 How Soccer Explains: the Pornography of Sects 35

3 How Soccer Explains: the Jewish Question 65

4 How Soccer Explains: the Sentimental Hooligan 89

5 How Soccer Explains: the Survival of the Top Hats 115

6 How Soccer Explains: the Black Carpathians 141

7 How Soccer Explains: the New Oligarchs 167

8 How Soccer Explains: the Discreet Charm of Bourgeois Nationalism 193

9 How Soccer Explains: Islam's Hope 217

10 How Soccer Explains: the American Culture Wars 235

Afterword: How to Win the World Cup 249

Note on Sources 259

Acknowledgments 263

Index 267

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First Chapter

How Soccer Explains the World
An Unlikely Theory of Globalization

Chapter One

How Soccer Explains
the Gangster's Paradise

Red Star Belgrade is the most beloved, most successful soccer team in Serbia. Like nearly every club in Europe and Latin America, it has a following of unruly fans capable of terrific violence. But at Red Star the violent fans occupy a place of honor, and more than that. They meet with club officials to streamline the organizational flow chart of their gangs. Their leaders receive stipends. And as part of this package, they have access to office space in the team's headquarters in the uppermiddle- class neighborhood of Topcider.

The gangs have influence, in large measure, because they've won it with intimidation. A few months before I arrived in Belgrade to learn about the club's complicity in the Balkan Wars of the 1990s, Red Star fan clubs had burst into the team's training session. With bats, bars, and other bludgeons, they beat three of their own players. After their havoc, they aren't typically shy about advertising their accomplishments. In this instance, the hooligans told reporters bluntly that they could "no longer tolerate lack of commitment on the pitch." It took only one phone call to organize an interview with a handful of them in their first-floor meeting room at the Red Star headquarters.

The Belgrade neighborhood around Red Star is cartoonishly ominous. An enormous gaggle of crows resides on the stadium's roof. When goals are scored and the crowd erupts, the birds flee -- across town, it's possible to gauge the results of a game based on presence or absence of an ornithological cloud above the skyline. On the other side of the street from the stadium, the family of Arkan, the most notorious warlord and gangster in Serb history, lives in a castle he constructed, a nouveau riche monstrosity with tiers of towers and turrets. When I loiter near the house for too long, a large man in a leather jacket emerges and inquires about my business. Because of the atrocities committed by Arkan's men, I describe myself as a lost tourist, nervously ask him for directions, and walk away briskly. On the evening of my visit, the sky is gunmetal.

My translator had arranged for me to meet with Draza, a leader of a Red Star fan club that calls itself the Ultra Bad Boys. He had persuaded him with the overblown promise that an interview would bring glory unto the club and world renown unto the achievements of the Red Star fans. Six of Draza's loquacious colleagues join him. At first glance, the Bad Boys look entirely unworthy of the first part of their name and too worthy of the second. Aside from the big red tattoos of their gang name on their calves, they seem like relatively upstanding young men. Draza wears a fleece jacket and chinos. His head of overgrown yet obviously manicured hair has the aura of a freshman philosophy student. As it turns out, he is a college student, swamped with preparations for exams. His comrades aren't any more menacing. One of them has a bowl haircut, a pudgy face, and an oversized ski parka that he never removes -- he looks like the kind of guy who's been shoved into his fair share of lockers.

Perhaps to increase their credibility, the Bad Boys have brought along a gray-haired man called Krle, who wears a ratty black San Antonio Spurs jacket. Krle's sinewy frame gives the impression that he fills his leisure time with pull-ups on a door frame in his flat. Many years of living a hooligan life have aged him prematurely. (When I ask his age and occupation, he changes the subject.) Unlike the naïve enthusiasm exhibited by the teens, who greet me warmly, Krle blares indifference. He tells my translator that he has only joined our interview because Draza insisted. His one gesture of bonhomie is to continually pour me warm Serbian beer from a plastic bottle. After I taste the beer, it hardly seems like such a friendly gesture. But because of his angry gray eyes, I find myself drinking glass after glass.

Krle serves as senior advisor to the group, a mentor to the aspiring hooligans. Putting aside his intense glare and unfriendly demeanor, I was actually glad for his presence. My interest in Red Star centers on the 1990s, his heyday as thug, when the fan clubs played a pivotal role in the revival of Serbian nationalism -- the idea that the Serbs are eternal victims of history who must fight to preserve a shred of their dignity. With little prodding, Draza speaks openly about the connections. Unfortunately, his monologue doesn't last long. Exerting his authority with volatile glances and brusque interruptions, Krle seizes control of the conversation. He answers questions curtly.

"Who do you hate most?"

A pause for a few seconds' worth of consideration. "A Croatian, a cop: it doesn't make a difference. I'd kill them all."

"What's your preferred method for beating a guy?"

"Metal bars, a special kick that breaks a leg, when a guy's not noticing." He sharply stomps down a leg, an obviously well-practiced move.

Because the beer has kicked in, I try to get closer to the reason for my visit. "I noticed that you call Arkan 'commandant.' Could you tell me a little more about how he organized the fans?"

His look is one of deep offense and then unmitigated fury. Even before the translation comes, his meaning is clear. "I shouldn't be answering your questions. You're an American. And your country bombed us. You killed good Serb men."

As good a reason as any to redirect the conversation to another topic. In an aside to my translator, which he didn't tell me about until after our interview, Krle announces, "If I met this American asshole on the street, I'd beat the shit out of him." Krle then drops out of the conversation. At first, he stands impatiently on the far side of the room ...

How Soccer Explains the World
An Unlikely Theory of Globalization
. Copyright © by Franklin Foer. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Reading Group Guide

Introduction

Using the world's most popular sport as a means to understand the world's most pressing issues, Franklin Foer's book is "significantly entertaining if you like soccer, and entertainingly significant if you do not" (Adam Gopnik, author of Paris to the Moon).

But Franklin Foer does like soccer. In fact, he has loved the sport since his parents introduced him to it hoping it would rid him of his boyhood shyness and shield him from the injuries of American football -- "a game where violence wasn't just incidental but inherent."

Taking a leave of absence from his job as a writer for The New Republic, Foer set off on a journey from Brazil to Bosnia, from Italy to Iran, and examined soccer as a way of illuminating the fault lines of a society. His discoveries were shocking and wide-ranging: in Serbia, a group of fans promoted political violence and engaged in genocide; in Scotland, rowdy fans fueled religious hatred; in Iran, female fans stormed the stadium and demanded equality; and in Spain, its citizens proved "that fans can love a club and a country with passion and without turning into a thug or terrorist."

With stories that reveal everything from the history of the little-known Jewish team of Hakoah, to the spirit of the Nigerian who plays for the Ukraine, to the triumphs and follies of the beloved icon Pelé, How Soccer Explains the World also looks closer to home. In the last chapter, "How Soccer Explains the American Culture Wars," the author claims that "there exists an important cleavage between the parts of the country that have adopted soccer as its pastime and the places that haven't."

Fueled by both journalistic instincts and true love of the sport, Franklin Foer delivers a compelling narrative with fascinating interviews and "scores a game-winning goal with this analysis of the interchange between soccer and the new global economy" (Publishers Weekly).

Questions for Discussion

  1. "This book has three parts. The first tries to explain the failure of globalization to erode ancient hatreds in the game's great rivalries ... The second part uses soccer to address economics: the consequences of migration, the persistence of corruption and the rise of powerful new oligarchs ... Finally, the book uses soccer to defend the virtues of old-fashioned nationalism -- a way to blunt the return of tribalism" (pages 5-6). Do you feel that the book succeeded on all three levels? Why or why not?

  2. How did the Red Star fans go from being "Milosevic's shock troops, the most active agents of ethnic cleansing, highly efficient practitioners of genocide" (page 13) to staging the "Red Star Revolution," helping to overthrow Milosevic in 2000?

  3. "The Celtic-Rangers rivalry represents something more than the enmity of proximity. It is an unfinished fight over the Protestant Reformation" (page 36). Discuss the role that soccer plays in the British Isles and in their religions.

  4. "Jackie Robinson's presence transformed the culture of baseball, slowly chipping away at clubhouse racism. Mo Johnston, strangely, had the opposite effect [in soccer]" (page 48). Why?

  5. Create an argument for and against the globalization of soccer. What are the benefits? Who are the victims? What can be learned from the history of soccer in order to ensure its successful future? Or do you see the sport self-destructing altogether?

  6. "An entire movement of Jews believed that soccer, and sport more generally, would liberate them from the violence and tyranny of anti-Semitism" (page 69). What did the Hakoah club contribute to the sport of soccer? Address the parallels between Jews and Native Americans as sports' mascots.

  7. What person or group do you see as the American equivalent to the English hooligan? Why do you think the hooligan is seen as such a fascinating character?

  8. Consider Pelé -- "the perfectly postmodern image" (page 125) -- and how his successes and failures mirrored those of the Brazilian soccer club.

  9. What do the ways in which the Italian teams, Juventus and Milan, influence the referees reveal about the organizations and owners, and ultimately the two very different styles of oligarchies?

  10. How has the team Barca, according to the author, proved the theory that "patriotism and cosmopolitanism should be perfectly compatible. You could love your country -- even consider it a superior group -- without desiring to dominate other groups or closing yourself off to foreign impulses" (page 199)?

  11. Discuss the football revolution and how it "holds the key to the future of the Middle East" (page 222).

  12. How has September 11th influenced the business and culture of soccer?

  13. After reading this book, would you encourage your children to play soccer or discourage them from participating in the sport? Explain.

About the Author

Franklin Foer is a senior editor at The New Republic and a contributing editor at New York magazine. His writing has also appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Atlantic Monthly, Slate, Foreign Policy, and Spin. He lives in Washington, D.C.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 50 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(19)

4 Star

(18)

3 Star

(8)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(3)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 50 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2010

    underwhelming

    this is not a story of globalization. This isn't "Tom Friedman on soccer". I was very disappointed that this book chose to focus on all the negative aspects of the game around the world and missed the opportunity to talk about so many other soccer stories. Way too much on hooliganism. The book started to hit a stride on the story of Brazil and Nigeria, but just never brought it together. I kept looking for a common theme or something to tie these stories together, to tell a story of globalization, but it just never came.

    If you're looking for a summary of all the negative sides of soccer (dirty owners, criminal fans, etc) you might enjoy this read. If you're looking for a book that explores sport & globalization, you will be sorely disappointed.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2008

    An Amazing Book!

    This was a awesome book about soccer and the ties to other issues in the world. Also how America is scared of soccer, this is why America doesn't accept that soccer is the greatest game in the world. It also covers racial issues and the battle of religion even in the game. I encourage anyone to read this book. I am not a big fan of reading and dislike it for the most part but I really enjoyed this book. Even if you aren't a soccer fan, this is still a good book for you because it addresses many other issues in the world and Foer has many very interesting stories about his own experiences. All readers should really enjoy this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2014

    not good at all

    This author is not a good writer. This book was entertainig but not the least bit educational. His references as to how soccer changed the world make no sense and did in no way back them up.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 27, 2014

    This book is a beautiful description of how soccer affects the w

    This book is a beautiful description of how soccer affects the world. I would totally recommend this to any true soccer fan.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2013

    Insightful, educational, entertaining.

    It contained history, exploration of present issues, some amazing stories. But to me, it seemed too specific and yet somehow impersonal? I came away feeling I had learned a lot, but that it was colder than other such (less insightful) accounts.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 25, 2011

    started it

    it is good so far. i'll write back when i'm done. gary114

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 2, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Globalization? No, not really. Good Book? Yes.

    Let me start out by saying I am one of those conservitive "troglodytes" that Foer describes in work, so this review might be somewhat skewed, but being a real football supporter, I did enjoy the depth in which he described his stories. I did not see any connection in terms of globalization other then football is enjoyed in all parts of the world for generations. What I think the readers will enjoy is the way Foer goes into detail about the aspects of the game he covers. For example, I am aware that the Brazilian game is full of corruption, but the book describes the detail the ins and outs, both past and present. One could argue Foer's conclusions with his observations (given the state of Scottish Football, I would think that the hatred of the Old Firm would be holding them back, not sustaining them) but still the book is very interesting. So much so that this conservitive boor will be buying a Real Madrid jersey as soon as he can!

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  • Posted February 17, 2010

    Soccer for Dummies!

    A great introduction to the wide world of soccer. Written by an American seemingly for an American audience, this book does a great job of helping to enlighten soccer fans to the deep history of the sport. From Asia to Brazil, North America to the Middle East, Foer travels the world researching soccer as an extension, or reflection, of world politics, economics and society. A fun read with plenty to be learned from it!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 14, 2009

    Who Knew?

    Fascinating exploration of the world through the world of soccer... very interesting journey and book...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2008

    What every American sports fans needs to read!

    The title is deceiving, it really has little or nothing to do with globalization. The title 'How Soccer Explains the World' alone fits the book perfectly. This book will explain to Americans what world football is all about. One of the greatest book I've read. Not only do you learn about football culture, you learn about the problems going on in the world and how it is noticable in football.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2006

    I love soccer, but I'm not convinced.

    Soccer fans will love this book, but those looking for a coherent argument may be dissapointed. Foer's case-study approach makes for an enjoyable read that takes readers across five continents, but there is so little effort to draw connections between the themes of each chapter that the whole book seems to be more of a collection of anecdotal examples than an illustration of general trends in soccer and globalization. The book is a very good read, and the chapters on Barcelona and American soccer (8 & 10) are great, but this book should be appreciated only as a collection of short stories about soccer culture and not accepted as a completely coherent argument about globalization.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2006

    Not Really About Globalization, But Interesting

    If you are an economist like me, this is not a book about globalization. This is a book about soccer. However, in the end he does make some good points about global culture, nationalism, and how U.S. soccer differs from the rest of the world. If you like soccer, you will probably like this book, but its connection to globalization is tenuous at best.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2006

    A new way to look at the world

    As a soocer fan it was great to read a book that used soccer and compared it to what was going on in the world. It is a must read for all soccer fans and current affairs junkies!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 18, 2006

    delightfully insightful

    Being a huge soccer fan, I was cautiously optimistic that this book would be true to my favorite sport and still have something substantial to say. I was not disappointed. Franklin Foer travels the world from Brazil to the Ukraine with plenty of stops in between probing and observing. The stories he tells demonstrate how trends in soccer are a reflection of globalization. The book shows the effects of globalization at a cultural and national level as well as its effect on the lives of individuals. The individual stories are the glue that holds the overall narrative together. I found this book to be a very enjoyable read. I would highly recommend it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 9, 2006

    Soccer or Football

    Whatever you call it, its always going to be the same. The only sport or culture that people all over the world talk the same. I just started reading this book mostly in study hall at school. This gave me a better understand why the world loves soccer or better yet understands it. From communist to democracy this game is all about goals, fans, yellow cards and championships can only define by its love of the game. No matter if you have no leggs, can't talk, or hear the game will still able to capture you.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2005

    Opens eyes to a new way of thinking.

    'an [unlikely] theory of globalization.' much like the book says, it show great insights on certain subjects i.e. Serb crisis, Brazil's corruption. Though, on the outside, seem like meaningless stories (though very interesting) go indepth into 'who, what, when, where and how?' An interesting read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2004

    Good Primer

    While this book is not an academic tome on globalization it does a good job of explaining globalization using an easy example in soccer. The book is entertaining and takes the reader acorss the globe to visit the various manifestations, both culturally and athletically, of the Beautiful Game.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2010

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