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Recently I finished reading the book How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization by Franklin Foer. I picked it up after it was recommended to me by a soccer playing friend. The book gives many examples of ways in which soccer transcends everything we know and brings people together like no other game in the world. After reading the book I can definitely understand the power that soccer has.

Each chapter of the book speaks about a different situation that displays soccer’s global reach. Chapter topics include Red Star Belgrade and their fans in Serbia, Africans playing in small European leagues in Western Europe, and Chelsea’s hooligans. The author took two years off from his job at New Republic and traveled the globe to write the book.

He talks about how Tottenham Hotspur supporters came to be known as the “Yids” even though the club is not based on anything Jewish. Celtic and Rangers play the “Old Firm” match, but it is much more than just a rivalry. The clubs are backed by separate religious groups and Foer details the history behind the rivalry and its impact today. Foer spends a chapter on his favorite club, Barcelona as well. He explains the underachievement of the club as well as the political relations between Catalonia and the Castilian capital of Madrid. Another topic covered in the book is Italy and the problems that it has had with scandals. Teams like Juventus, AC Milan and Inter Milan are all praised and criticized in this chapter. Foer also details the struggles of the Brazilian game and their fight for financial stability despite producing some of the world’s great players, such as Ronaldinho, Robinho, and Kaka. Finally the author talks about soccer in America.

Overall I think this is a great book and would recommend it to anyone who is looking for something to read in his or her free time. I’m a busy college student and wasn’t able to sit and read it all in a short time span, but every time I came back to it, I found it easy to pick up exactly where I left off. I wouldn’t recommend it to younger readers because the book has a lot of vocabulary that is hard to understand. This is a serious book and will make you think, instead of just being a happy story about soccer. You will read about things that soccer fans have done that will surprise you, but I think it will help open a reader’s eyes to soccer on an international level. The book really does show how soccer is a very global game. The impacts of the games carry over the touchline into personal lives and effect people and countries on a level that we have yet to see in the United States. After reading this book you will hopefully have a bit of an idea of how big the game of soccer is and how much it means to people all over the world.


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