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Soccernomics: Why England Loses, Why Germany and Brazil Win, and Why the U.S., Japan, Australia, Turkey--and Even Iraq--Are Destined to Become the Kings of the World's Most Popular Sport
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Soccernomics: Why England Loses, Why Germany and Brazil Win, and Why the U.S., Japan, Australia, Turkey--and Even Iraq--Are Destined to Become the Kings of the World's Most Popular Sport

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  7,122 ratings  ·  407 reviews
Why do England lose? Why does Scotland suck? Why doesn’t America dominate the sport internationally... and why do the Germans play with such an efficient but robotic style?

These are questions every soccer aficionado has asked. Soccernomics answers them.

Using insights and analogies from economics, statistics, psychology, and business to cast a new and entertaining light on
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Paperback, 336 pages
Published October 27th 2009 by Nation Books (first published 2009)
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Fever Pitch by Nick HornbyInverting the Pyramid by Jonathan  WilsonBrilliant Orange by David WinnerThe Damned Utd by David PeaceSoccernomics by Simon Kuper
Best Football (Soccer) Books
5th out of 175 books — 154 voters
Moneyball by Michael LewisFriday Night Lights by H.G. BissingerSeabiscuit by Laura HillenbrandThe Blind Side by Michael LewisFever Pitch by Nick Hornby
Top reads for sports fans
22nd out of 526 books — 506 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Erich Franz Guzmann
As soccer being my favorite sport, I was really hoping to like this a lot more than I actually did; and it did have some really interesting parts to it. A big problem it had in fact was it took way to long to actually get to those good parts. If it had kept in my favorite sections and cut the length of the book in half, I would be giving this book 5 stars easily. I can't complain too bad though, because I did get some enjoyment out of it and I did get some really interesting facts as well.
Daniel Solera
Soccernomics is a statistical study of the world’s most popular sport in the vein of Steven Levitt’s bestseller Freakonomics. Authors Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski delve into soccer by abandoning all conventional wisdom about the sport and studying it strictly by the numbers. Because of their data-heavy approach, the majority of the book focuses on European soccer, because it is from European sources that their findings are most reliable.

The book is framed around several questions: Which coun
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Alicia
Marcelo and I got into a screaming fit last night over this book. I was trying to tell him some things that this book said and he didn't believe me. And so he started going off about how anyone can put ANYTHING in a book, and how you can't always believe what books say. (I think he was supposed to be talking about the Internet, but whatever). I think he was offended when I said that English Soccer owners run their clubs very unlike Americans. So the English almost never make money, but the Ameri ...more
James Van
Interesting take on lots of stuff about soccer, and I learned a bunch of stuff, but I think some of the conclusions are flat-out wrong.

I think the authors tried to draw too many conclusions from a relatively small amount of knowledge of baseball and football. Many lessons have been learned since Moneyball (defense is valuable), and there's a lot more knowledge about football (running backs, not so much) than what was stated.

One chapter tried to argue that the NFL has no more parity than the EPL
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Cristian
As I salivate over the obscenely large television I might be purchasing just in time for this year's world cup, I was really hoping this book would give me an overview of the global soccer business. Instead, it was a disconnected series of not-that-interesting anecdotes, with lots of statistics, some of which weren't bad, but none that exciting. These guys could have used Michael Lewis as an editor -- he could have maybe spun the book into decent shape.
Rob
A longer version of the following review can be accessed at: Why England Lose

I must confess that I entered upon the reading of Why England Lose with a heavy heart. Although I enjoyed the playful tone and sharp conclusions of Freakonomics, I found it to be a somewhat glib volume that exercised extreme selectivity with its data in order to “prove” its points. For the world of football to be afforded the same treatment by an economics profession that has largely lost touch with the real world, been
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Michael Scott
Inspired by Levitt's Freakonomics, Soccernomics is yet another book about ... wait ... it's the first book that tries to datamine everything about soccer (ahm, football.) Two authors with affinity for football and statistics have embarked in the eternal game of showing that you can prove anything you want with unverified data and faulty methods. Much as in the case of Freakonomics, I disliked the results: using the method of this work (regression of multiple rather thin and shaky datasets), you ...more
Ryan Patrick
The first few chapters were quite enlightening and engaging. Some of the later chapters didn't capture my attention as well - the questions the authors asked weren't all that interesting and their statistical analysis lacked a sense that they were using good numbers and in the right way. For example, I'm just not convinced that the number of international games a country has played equates to a good measure of 'experience' in any meaningful sense. Playing a bunch of friendlies against podunk opp ...more
Nick Butler
Maybe the best way to explain how fascinating and unusual this book is, is to look at the people that wrote it; it's such a curious combination that the book takes time to explain how they even met in its introduction (it was at a conference in Turkey). Simon Kuper is the kind of man you might expect, a sports columnist published in several broadsheets and with two previous books about football under his belt, but Stefan Szymanski holds a PhD in economics, has written about politics and arts for ...more
Brian Sison
The quote on the cover sums it up: "A blend of Freakonomics and Fever Pitch, bringing surprising economic analysis to bear on the world's most popular sport." - Bloomberg News

The chapter on penalty kicks was outstanding, some others not so much.
A lot of the best parts of the book were seeming non-sequiturs relative to the primary push of the authors. Along with the question of penalty kicks, the authors whetted the appetite of the reader by touching on topics of discrimination in soccer, the ri
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Francis Kayiwa
Apr 14, 2010 Francis Kayiwa rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Ian
I’ll be honest I saw the review

“A blend of Freakanomics and Fever Pitch, bringing suprising economic analysis on the world’s most popular sport… a thught-provoking, often amysing read –Bloomberg News“

trumpeted on the cover of this book and I instinctively knew it would be a chore to like it. I quite enjoyed reading Fever Pitch and the less I say about Freakanomics the better. As with Freakanomics *sigh* it is puzzling if one is expected to read this as a scholar or as a popularization of a schol
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Ben
I'm not a mathematician, but I am a lover of 'the beautiful game', and I found this book really engrossing and read it quickly. It has a completely different way of looking at football from a socio-economical/mathematical angle, and made some really good points. I didn't agree with all of their arguments though, I thought the logic was flawed in places, but I loved the fresh perspective and occasional appearance of dry humour throughout the book. In several places it hits you with some truths wh ...more
Caleb
This is a book in the Freakonomics, Moneyball genre, and it is quite good. These guys have a strong mastery of the sports end plus the math to back it up. They certainly make some great points about overpaying for veterans and the lack of professionalism in managing.

Though I suppose a good thing, I had my quibbles. It's another book claiming there is no more parity in the NFL than in the Premier League and top soccer, and that's nonsense. The same few teams win every year in soccer, and the fact
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Damon
Soccernomics is done in the style of "Freakanomics," but with a sports writer's eye for details and story. Having studied Statistics and Data Analysis, I know that all data and surveys results must be taken with a grain of salt. Although, the writers do have a persuasive arguement for how economics and location, strongly effect why certain countries continually do well in international competitions, and others continue to struggle.
One particular chapter I liked, discussed Game Theory, and how
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Christopher Bashforth
Excellent football book, whose premise is to provide statistical background to why certain teams do well and others do not. The authors provide 3 factors why certain countries do well; tradition, wealth and population and guess what – England actually do as well as statistically they should be expected to do. This provide ammunition to my argument that the English media overhypes the team’s chances and should learn a little humility. Other surprising revelations included that World Cups actually ...more
Matt
Soccernomics is a fantastic look at a soccer from a completely different point-of-view than you're probably used to seeing. Using statistical techniques like regression and massive amounts of old match results and other data related to both the classic and modern game of soccer, Kuper and Szymanski bring a new insight to how we think of the beautiful game. There are sections on national teams, club teams, and fans, and they all bring a style similar to Freakonomics and its look at different popu ...more
Joe Higgins
Been meaning to read this forever, so rather than sit and day-drink between WC games one day, I walked down to the Tattered Cover and finally picked it up. Short, essay-sized chapters on topics that footy fans expound on with great certainty, that these guys (one a football scribe, the other an economist) put to the test. Which side to go during PKs. Why soccer teams don’t, and shouldn’t make money. Do coaches make a difference? Buy this, "The Ball is Round", some beer or gin, and the MLSLive pa ...more
Nate
I had previously read How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization by Franklin Foer. In that book, Soccer is used to explain globalization. I thought this book would use soccer to explain global economics. This is the diametric opposite of that - it uses economics and statistical models to explain soccer. None the less, it is a great book. The authors have examined a mountains of data to illustrate the past,present, and future of global soccer. The potential dryness of stat ...more
Mark
For a book that tries to equate MoneyBall to soccer it completely misses the point. It picks and chooses facts, wraps it in very basic stats to make it sound like they have done some work and maths and present there theories as fact which don't stand up to any scrutiny.

I have never been so relived that the last 10% of the book was acknowledgements and and index.

That said the passages about OL was interesting but the only thing I really took from it was under 23 is an ideal age to buy a player.
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DW
This is Moneyball + Freakonomics applied to soccer - a good book to read during the World Cup. Overall interesting, though I skimmed some of the math and models because it was making my eyes glaze over. I don't agree with the authors' conclusions about everything though.

Large parts of this book felt like they were written to make England feel better about having a losing national team. "The tough Premier League takes too much energy from all their players" - possibly true. "England doesn't recru
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Scott
Thoughts on the Most Interesting Chapters

1. The chapter on England losing seems appropriate because Costa Rica inexplicably defeated Andrea Pirlo's Italy this morning, sending England home during the group stage for the first time in my dad's lifetime. My favorite thing about that chapter is that it's a reality check that argues that we attach themes like fate and greatness and destiny to a team's performance when, in reality, the difference between winning and losing a tournament consisting of
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Franz
What is the most effective type of corner kick? Is it true that rather than offering disappointing results in international soccer tournaments such as the World Cup, the English national team has done much better than the data predict? Is it possible that the Spanish and German national teams are overachievers as well? Why will the United States become a world soccer power?These are kinds of questions this book answers. With Michael Lewis’s Moneyball as inspiration and Oakland A’s general manage ...more
M.J.
Soccernomics attempts to break down the “Beautiful Game” with rational analysis without falling prey to the enduring myths of the sport. Its a decent book that achieves what it sets out to do. Perhaps it is not altogether ambitious, but it will provide some insight into the game that even some of fans may not have appreciated. Like its antecedents, Freakonomics and MoneyBall, a heavy reliance on statistics and econometric analysis (and more than few doses of anecdotal evidence) is employed in an ...more
Jose


This book called Soccernomics and the reason why I liked this book so much was because it talked about a lot of countries. These experts in soccer talk about all the countries why they suck and why they are good and why some countries win and win and keep winning this book answers all the questions anyone has ever had about soccer in their country.




There are no main characters in the story to be honest they just talk about the countries mostly there are some athletes they mention like David Beck
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Joanie
I've been meaning to read this book for a little while now. It's likely that the World Cup looming in the not-so-distant-horizon is the push I needed. Afterall, it's good to brush up a bit on the sport beforehand.

From the title and the cover design (the orange, mostly), I expected a soccer-themed Freakonomics book, which it pretty much is. Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski, a soccer columnist and a sports economist, respectively, collaborate to look into various assumptions about and within the s
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Alan
Simon Kuper is top of the league when it comes to writing about soccer. Soccer correspondent for the Financial Times in London, his depth of insight into the world's game is remarkable. HIs new book is an eye opener, dispelling the arrogance of the elites, and ending the hopes of the hopeful. A brilliant chapter on Guus Hiddink finishes of the book like Ronaldo finishes off a free kick outside the box - he scores!
Yair Vera
Un sesgado estudio econométrico que evidencia la nostalgia de los ingleses por el imperio que fueron, mientras que la envidia por los norteamericanos queda expuesta en cada crítica al modelo de negocios en deportes como el béisbol, baloncesto o fútbol americano. Tampoco logran explicar claramente cómo es que los factores asociados al éxito en el fútbol no los ha cumplido Brasil.
Elliott Turner
This book is a great concept but a bit uneven. If the goal was to use statistics to dispel common myths, then it failed , in part due to the ridigity of its own statistical analysis. Various chapters and sections were cool, but all too often the sample groups and medians and modes lead to a world so far removed academically that it said little about reality.
Claire
This book is labeled “World Cup Edition”, so you think you’re getting a book about the World Cup. Wrong! This book is about English soccer with a couple chapters about Spain, South Africa, and the like thrown in at the end.

It’s obvious that this book was repackaged with minimal changes (from the first Soccernomics book) to coincide with 2014 World Cup. As a book that has practically nothing about the World Cup in it, that is some blatant false advertising. I can forgive a lot of things in a boo
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Diego González
En la saga de "Freakonomics", Soccernomics aporta una serie de datos curiosos alrededor del deporte más seguido del mundo (creo que el segundo es el Críquet, lo cual no dice nada bueno del ser humano como especie) que explican, o pretenden explicar, porque Inglaterra no gana nunca, por qué los equipos forjados a golpe de cartera no su suelen triunfar o por qué un equipo de Londres y otro de Moscú acabarán ganando la Champions (el Chelsea aún no había ganado la suya en 2012). Es francamente ameno ...more
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soccer 1 13 Oct 28, 2013 07:35AM  
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