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

3.71 of 5 stars 3.71  ·  rating details  ·  6,487 ratings  ·  560 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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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

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
Idle Hippo
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.

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

Well, few years ago, I caught myself lost...more
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
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
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
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
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 Fataftah
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
May 14, 2010 Silvana rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Silvana by: Roos
Shelves: own, nonfiction
buku yg sgt entertaining apalagi buat penggemar olahraga yg satu ini. banyak fakta2 menarik yg dikemas cukup apik. kalau barca itu sebutannya 'mas que un club', maka sepakbola itu 'mas que un sport'. learn football and you learn the world :D
This book should've been titled: How Globalization Explains Soccer. Don't expect to glean any valid historical knowledge. Also, I'm distrustful of anyone who starts off with "God Bless Rupert Murdoch."
Imam Hidayah
seharusnya ini menjadi bahan bacaan wajib seluruh mahasiswa jurnalistik. keren abis. dan gara-gara buku ini pula saya menjadi penggemar el barca. "rahmat terbesar tuhan untuk menikmatik waktu luang".
An interesting, entertaining and informative read. Fails (as many have noted) to actually offer a "theory of globalization" – instead presenting a series of well-fleshed-out vignettes showing how soccer serves to illustrate the effects of globalism in a few very different parts of the world.

The story of Belgrade's soccer hooligans' involvement in the Balkan war was the biggest eye opener to me, but the chapters about bone-headed sectarian strife in Glasgow and the tale of a couple of forlorn Nig...more
interesting perspective on social and political conflicts by looking at soccer clubs and their fans.
One of the best books I read last year. Truly eye-opening.

Oh, and er, GO GUNNERS!!!!
Turns out it doesn't really.
Feb 07, 2014 CëRïSë rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to CëRïSë by: Lorin
My dear friend Lorin sent this to me as his #1 book of 2012, but because I'm slow at and little inclined toward nonfiction (and was, you know, finishing a dissertation at the time), it took me a long time to get around to it. But I finally finished it!

I'm a middling soccer fan (though I do get plenty enthused every World Cup!), and a bigger theories-about-globalization fan, but this still didn't really work for me. Partly, the earlier chapters, where Franklin Foer seems to have the strongest kno...more
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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.
More about Franklin 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.” 15 likes
“Indeed, this is an important characteristic of the globalization debate: the tendency toward glorifying all things indigenous even when they deserve to be left in the past.” 1 likes
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