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How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization
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How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  7,525 ratings  ·  606 reviews
Soccer is much more than a game, or even a way of life. It is a perfect window into the cross-currents of today's world, with all its joys and its sorrows. In this remarkably insightful, wide-ranging work of reportage, Franklin Foer takes us on a surprising tour through the world of soccer, shining a spotlight on the clash of civilizations, the international economy, and j ...more
Paperback, 261 pages
Published July 5th 2005 by Harper Perennial (first published June 29th 2004)
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miaaa
Jun 04, 2010 miaaa rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to miaaa by: footy maniacs
Warning: next writing is written under the state of cracking emotion. Any confusions and flaws it affects should not be taken for granted.

And it's not a review!


What is so special about football, that it pains so much when you lost and taking you so high when matches are won. And it kills you to see your beloved club is brought down by ignorant fools who know nothing about the game of passion.

Right now, when I'm writing this, I was torn in two out of madness. The real me is always a Blue and that
...more
gonk bukan pahlawan berwajah tampan
Memahami Sepakbola ? : Sebuah Coretan Tak Lazim

wis suwe aku ngenteni kowe
rina wengi ora nyambut gawe
persebaya kudu dimenangke
arek bonek mendem rame-rame

terj.
telah lama kumenantimu
siang malam tak ada kerjaan
persebaya harus dimenankan
arek bonek mabuk rame-rame

Riuh rendah terdengar nyanyian dari para bonek setiap Persebaya, kesebelasan asal kota Surabaya menjamu lawan-lawan mereka di Stadion Tambaksari. Bagi saya sendiri itu adalah salah satu nyanyian suporter yang orisinil dari Surabaya d
...more
Hippo dari Hongkong
It's ectasy, anguish, joy and despair.
It's part of our history.
It's part of our country.
And it will be part of our future.
It's theatre, art, war and love.
It should be predictable ... but NEVER is.
It's a feeling that can't be explained but we spend our lives explaining it.

It's OUR religion.
We DO NOT apologise for it.
We DO NOT deny it.
They're OUR team, OUR family and OUR life.

Football
................
We know how you feel about it.
Because we feel the same...


Well, few years ago, I caught myself lost
...more
Jim
Apr 07, 2008 Jim rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who knows that it is really called football
First of all, it's played with the feet, but I'll call it "soccer" even though it pains me to do so. Like the author, I too am a soccer geek and a mediocre player. (I was a much better coach.)

The title promises more than the book delivers, but titles are often the work of publishers' promotion departments. (It's a minor quibble.) The book does a good job of showing how soccer is intertwined with issues of ethnic and sectarian identity, class conflict, politics and culture. It does this in a ligh
...more
David
The title is completely misleading. There is no theory about globalization and soccer is not explaining the world at all. That out of the way, what Foer does is provide a series of vignettes or showing examples of how globalization has impacted the game in a few specific examples (ranging from the Glasgow Rangers and FC Barcelona to the Iranian and American national teams) focusing on changes in the culture of those teams over that last 60ish years. He provides anecdotes in each chapter that sho ...more
Lilly G
Foer (brother of Jonathan Safran Foer, for those of you keeping track at home) puts his pen to the paper to explain world affairs to his american audience through the one lens they might identify with -- sports.

Unfortunately, the sport he chooses is soccer. Which American's don't give a shit about. But guess what? They don't give a shit about world affairs either, so it's a brilliant marriage.

(For you curious folk out there, he takes on major questions- racism, gender discrimination, fundamental
...more
Alex
Alright, so anybody that knows me knows what a freak I am about the beautiful game. Having said that I have to admit that I was more than a bit disappointed by this book. Now, the reviews that it had received weren't entirely terrific, nonetheless, it was a quick and interesting read at work. I can't say I didn't learn anything, but the author's thesis was tenuous at best and he never really "proved" (for lack of a better term right now) how, exactly, soccer "explains the world."

There was a good
...more
William Johnson
Reprinted from my website Secure Immaturity:

Hello mates!

I gave this book a quick read. The cover’s title and the gravitas the book gives off makes you feel like you really are reading something amazing here. Think about the oppurtunities in a book that examines the world’s greatest game in such a massive way! But the dubious length (a paltry 250-ish pages) and the rather broad approach quickly shot down my joy. Foer’s greatest strength here will be an ignorant audience. Those who don’t know foot
...more
Chris
Warning: Depsite the fact that I am a Yank, I might refer to soccer as football in this review. The term football makes more sense.

In 2000, I was making my way back from Copenhagen (Ah Wonderful Copenhagen, Beautiful Copenhagen, where I lived down the street from a waffle factory. I would get hungery just stepping outside the building), I had a lay over in Paris. The only time I have ever been to Paris. (Do you have any idea how long it took to me find something affordable to eat? And this was b
...more
Ishraq
I still hate it when calling football soccer but what would you do if this book is written by an American! I'm a football fan myself and when I saw the book, not only the title of the book took my attention but also the cover page was really touching!! (Marketing I guess).

You might wonder what is the relation between football and globalization, but Foer explains it well when talking about politics, history, racism (my God there is a list of chants you won’t believe you are hearing them outside t
...more
selena
How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization has been on my shelf for years and it was the mention of soccer that kept me from reading it. Despite being from Eastern Europe, I am completely ambivalent toward soccer.

And yet Franklin Foer uses soccer as a brilliant example to discuss hooliganism within soccer, nationalism and corruption. He writes about specific soccer teams (mostly in Europe but also Brazil) and how team rivalries show themselves to be much more complex than
...more
Caroline
As a recent college graduate, unemployed, and slightly depressed during the summer of 2006, the World Cup in Germany was my saving grace. Hours upon hours of soccer games helped pass the idle days spent in bed fretting about the future.

Thus, by no means am I an expert of soccer. I've come to really enjoy the build up and release of tension that punctuates the games course of action. Not any less important is my fervent appreciation of very fit foreign men in shorts.

When I picked up "How Soccer
...more
Daniel
This book was very intriguing to me. This book taught me how soccer explains the effects of globalization in todays society. The book is split into three major parts. The first parttalks about how globalization has failed to get rid of ancient hatred between rival clubs. The next two sections of the book talk about how globalization has expanded to all different parts of the world since the early beginning of it. I like how Franklin Foer organizes the book into three parts because it emphasizes ...more
Ryan Patrick

I enjoyed this book, probably because, like Foer, I like soccer. I learned something new about world soccerdom in each chapter. The title of the book, however, is a bit overstated. Since each chapter is related to the others only in the largest thematic ways, Foer fails to really present any kind of "theory" of globalization - in other words, the book lacks a central thesis. What he offers instead is a series of pastiches illuminating the impact of globalization upon soccer, and even to some ext
...more
Craig
One of my favorite parts of traveling is the chance to read some of the books that are stacking up on the floor in my bedroom. The pace of life doesn't always leave time for these simple pleasures, but there is really no excuse when you're crossing time zones in the air.

Speaking about my work abroad, a close friend of mine recommended the book I just finished—How Soccer Explains the World—which takes an unusual look at globalization through an analysis of the impact of soccer (football to most o
...more
Tung
In honor of this year’s World Cup, I committed to reading a book about soccer before the end of the year. I had read strong reviews about Foer’s work – which is essentially a documentary about different social/political/historical events/movements and soccer’s relationship to them. For example, in one of the chapters, Foer walks the reader through Iran’s history and struggle between the strict religious rule of a clerical government and a desire for modernization and improved freedoms. Foer ties ...more
Lindsey
Contrary to how I often operate, I'm not going to get bent out of shape because the title is misleading-- rather than a book with a cohesive (and probably far-fetched) thesis running through it, it is a collection of vignettes about how soccer is entrenched in the cultural, economic, ethnic, religious, etc. consciousness of the modern world. I thoroughly enjoyed most of the vignettes-- through the eyes of soccer, they offer a fresh perspective on some of the most significant historical moments o ...more
Jack Palmer
Foer's book is an enjoyable look at how football (soccer) relates to the globalization of the world. I like his on-the-ground reporting with supporters from different clubs (although I think he focuses on hooliganism a little too much) and he makes some well-constructed arguments as to how football is a force of globalization. That said, the book is stuck a little bit in the middle between being a scholarly paper and a journalistic travelogue, and as such makes broad sweeping statements from per ...more
Jane
As a casual soccer fan and former anthropology major, and apparently a lover of all books written by the Foer brothers, I enjoyed this a lot. Each chapter addressed soccer's role in a particular culture, with attention to how the sport, players and fans reflect the culture wars and social movements of that place. I would have enjoyed it even if I didn't like soccer -- it really is about the sport off the field, and culture, more than it is about the game on the field. I found the writing to have ...more
Cory
A great little book of essays that makes you wonder why there aren't more like it, even if some of the observations smack of tourism. I dream of more books like this but suspect they are hard to replicate; How Soccer Explains the World is a single-shot rifle that gets it mostly right the first time.

If you love soccer, want to see it in a variety of national cultures and contexts, and wonder how it connects the world through an economic/cultural/technological theory of globalization, you'll enjo
...more
Leif
Nationalist neo-liberalism at its (worst) best. Fascinating chapters on Austrian Jewish and Serbian soccer mix with disappointing policy pieces on Iran (where the interest seems less soccer and more an admonishment of political policies); meanwhile, as many others note, an actual understanding of globalization and nationalism remains latent. Perhaps the clearest statement on Foer's perception on these questions can be found in his Barca chapter, where he admits to loving the idea of a cosmopolit ...more
Ian Shaw

How Soccer Explains The World, a moving nonfiction
How soccer explains the world, by Franklin Foer exposes some of the world’s social problems. The book travels to many different settings throughout world and explains the problems that those areas are experiencing. It then shows how soccer brings the people of the area together as one and helps them forget the problems and to enjoy life. The major theme in this book is that we are all the same, that we are all human, and although there may be ma
...more
Klay Dalton
The book is in ten essays that all deal with soccer. Each story is thoroughly entertaining although sometimes hilariously out of date now (Copyright is from 2004). The author travels to various parts of the world in order to tell soccer stories.

If the book tried to sell itself as a collection of magazine-like articles on various facets of soccer then it would meet expectations. However, the title of the book and the blurbs on the back try to sell it as a look at globalization through the eyes o
...more
Michelle
I feel like the title is misleading. I don't know if it really laid out one, clear theory. It was chapter after chapter of historical findings that relate culture to soccer and vice-versa. If you're into soccer (or history) at all, it's a decent read, but some chapters are better than others. It's easy to see which teams the author is more passionate about. It oozes from the chapters he writes. Biased? Yep, but it still yields some interesting information.
Danijel Brestovac


Str. 40- zdi se, da nihče ne sovraži tako, kot zna sovražiti sosed soseda.

str. 46- čustva nogometnih navijačev se prav rado karikira. Te ljudi se pogosto uporablja kot cepce, ki jih vodijo za nos hujskaški politiki, žene pa jih sovraštvo, ki izvira iz nevednosti, nezadovoljstva z lastnim gmotnim položajem ali zgolj iz občutka manjvrednosti.

Str. 117- Pele je leta 2001 izjavil, da se je v Ameriki naučil, da "z družinskimi člani ne moreš sklepati uspešnih poslov. Ne moreš nekoga imenovati za predse
...more
Ryan Fitzgerald
When I first picked this book out from the shelf, I really thought that it was about a man that had a passion of football and became a professional footballer but no, It was about a man who his mother doesn't let him play football but he didn't want to give up and he kept chasing his dream to become a footballer.
I gave this book 4 stars because it was really fun reading it but its not enough for 5 stars in my opinion.
Seth
Once I realized (and got past the fact) that I was not going to read about an "unlikely theory of globalization" as the book cover advertised, I started to enjoy this little book. I read the first section expecting to find this theory, but it's just not there (or anywhere for that matter). What is there, however, is interesting and worthwhile.

This book is simply a series of vignettes about global change and its impact in a few select cultures, cities, and clubs. It's really a story about footba
...more
Ally Shand
I admit, I was a little suspicious of this book at first glance. The author mentions 'soccer' in the title and this sets alarm bells ringing for me and I think any European football fan right off the bat. I've read a few American books about the beautiful game and they nearly all displayed a painful ignorance of the traditions of the game in Europe and how it fits into a broader cultural tapestry.

However, through meticulous research and, evidently, a genuine passion for football, Foer resists t
...more
Dave Lanser
For any soccer fan, this is an incredibly interesting perspective on globalization. Great source for rousing up intelligent arguments at the local soccer bar on a Saturday morning with Manchester United or Chelsea fans that don't know a thing about the game. Go Arsenal.
Nick Mayrand
Through compelling vignettes that display a ridiculous commitment to researching this book, Foer complicates any simplistic conception of globalization. Conclusions are mostly left up to the reader which can be frustrating, but it fits the style of the book. Highly recommend it.
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Franklin Foer is the editor of The New Republic and has written for Slate and New York magazine. Foer, who lives in Washington, D.C., is older brother of novelist Jonathan Safran Foer and freelance journalist Joshua Foer.
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“Soccer isn't the same as Bach or Buddhism. But it is often more deeply felt than religion, and just as much a part of the community's fabric, a repository of traditions.” 21 likes
“there's a long history of resistance movements igniting in the soccer stadium. In the Red Star Revolution, Draza, Krle, and the other Belgrade soccer hooligans helped topple Slobodan Milosevic. Celebrations for Romania's 1990 WOrld Cup qualification carried over into the Bucharest squares, culminating in a firing squad that trained its rifles on the dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife. The movement that toppled the Paraguayan dictator Alfredo Stroessner had the same sportive ground zero.” 2 likes
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