World Class Reads for the World Cup

I didn’t play soccer growing up and don’t typically pay much attention to the goings-on in the major soccer/football leagues in the U.S. and Europe, but every four years, for a few weeks in the summer, I devote a good chunk of my TV time to the World Cup. We watch a lot of sports at our house as it is, but for the past week, it’s been all World Cup, all the time. Since I don’t know a lot about soccer and don’t have a great background to put what I’m watching in context, I started looking for something to read that would build up my knowledge of the game. So here’s a list of recommended reads about soccer for those who are interested in learning more (and being entertained in the process):

How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization by Franklin Foer – Examines the role of soccer in various cultures around the world, particularly in the context of increasing globalization

Bloody Confused!: A Clueless American Sportswriter Seeks Solace in English Soccer by Chuck Culpepper – An American sportswriter fed up with the American sports scene dives into the world of the English Premier League

The Girls of Summer: the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team and How It Changed the World by Jere Longman – An inside look at the 1999 U.S. Women’s national team and how its players raised the bar for women in sports

The Ball is Round: A Global History of Soccer by David Goldblatt – A complete history of the game of soccer and a discussion of its status as the single most prominent cultural activity that ties the world together

Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby – Hornby’s autobiographical look at the fanaticism and community of being a soccer fan

Among the Thugs by Bill Buford – An account of editor, travel writer and social commentator Buford’s experience being embedded in the alternate society of England’s soccer thugs

Soccer in Sun and Shadow by Eduardo Galeano – An account of the history of soccer in South America

More Than Just a Game: Soccer vs. Apartheid: The Most Important Soccer Story Ever Told by Chuck Korr – The story of the struggle of prisoners of Robben Island in South Africa to be granted the right to play soccer, and how the game became a symbol of their resistance against apartheid


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