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The World is a Ball: The Joy, Madness and Meaning of Soccer

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  310 ratings  ·  36 reviews
Globe and Mail columnist John Doyle explores the international phenomenon of soccer

In A Great Feast of Light, John Doyle viewed his childhood in Ireland through the television screen. Now, he turns his eye to the most popular sport on the planet: soccer. It's a journey that begins with the first game John saw, in 1960s-era Ireland, through soccer in the 21st century - the
Paperback, 416 pages
Published May 11th 2010 by Doubleday Canada/Rodale in U.S./Transworld in UK/Ireland
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3.82  · 
Rating details
 ·  310 ratings  ·  36 reviews

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Jan 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
I saw an extended interview with Doyle on the Fox Soccer Report and was very impressed. I always have a long queue of books to read, but the interview was enough to jump this book to the head of the line. I was lucky enough to get a copy from my library with a week. I was excited to read it, but my interest went through the roof when Doyle compared America’s interaction with world soccer to the writing of Henry James. Wow!

Doyle writes little about tactics and players, instead the book focuses o
Ron Davidson
Jun 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
A decent first-person account of some of the biggest soccer tournaments -- several World Cups and European Championships -- and what they meant to the author and the people he encountered. The book is good for both knowledgeable fans of the sport and for beginners who are still learning about the beauty (and ugliness) of the game.

The author is an Irish-born Canadian who grew up with the game, but often at a distance -- coming of age in an Ireland that still distrusted this "English" game, then
May 30, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'll start out with the caveat that I have never been into soccer. But I decided that I want to learn more about this sport and try and get into the World Cup this year. This book was recommended on reddit, and I figured this was a good place to start by finding out why it was such a big deal. Doyle perfectly captured what soccer means to the people who watch it as they live and die with their team. The emotions, the camaraderie, the atmosphere, and just the sport itself were excellently describ ...more
Marc Xuereb
Jul 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
as a soccer fan, you can't help but love this book. Anyone who as every felt the thrill of being in a crowd of enthusiastic fans at a soccer game, living and dying with the fortunes of your favourite team on the field, will appreciate the many personal stories of John Doyle covering international soccer games as a journalist.
Carlos Santos
Mar 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Great book about the aura of the game around some of the biggest Soccer events on the captures that special feeling
Renuka Mendis
Jul 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Football in Primary Colours - a short note on The World Is A Ball: The Joy, Madness And Meaning Of Soccer by John Doyle

There are four primary colours. Red, green, blue and football. And Doyle colours the whole world football. The paintbrush his heart. I cannot remember a book that made me so happy of late. A joyous, funny, warm and informative caravanserai through two World Cups and two Euros; deliciously larded with biting satire and sometimes spiked with heartbreak.

A travelogue and commentary
Sep 04, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012, non-fiction
The World Is A Ball is, at its heart, a book about fans and fandom. It is written in the context of soccer fans, but fans are the same, no matter the fandom. It's the excitement, the joy, the enthusiasm, the stress, the heartache, the letdown, the continuously going back even though logic dictates you shouldn't. It's all that and more. That was what I was able to take from this book. (Not anything new, considering I'm really big on being a fan!)

It's all put in the context of soccer events, espec
Jacob Jones-Goldstein
Jul 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sports, travel
This was a lovely book to read during World Cup 2014. As something of a new convert to football I've been reading quite a few books about the sport of late and this was decidedly different than most. It is more of a football travelog about fans and tournaments and what makes them great than it is a book about the sport itself. Doyle does a wonderful job in making that case that tournaments like the World Cup have a magical quality than transcends sport and even national political rivalries.

I wo
May 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Maybe I am just in the thrall of the World Cup, but it was grea to relive past Euro and World Cups. If you are looking for something to get you excited about Brazil 2014, this is the book to read.
May 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Great read for soccer fans ahead of the World Cup. The chapters about England were hilarious.
Feb 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
I have always enjoyed John Doyle's newspaper articles and this book was more of the same. He has a unique and honest view of the games and celebrations.
Jan 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed the enthusiasm and love for the beautiful game in this book. Relived some memories of past Euro Cups and World Cups and now I'm excited for the World Cup in 2014!
Donovan Richards
Jun 15, 2011 rated it liked it
Culture Soup

I've always thought it would be fun to attend a world event like the Olympic Games or a World Cup. The idea of a myriad of cultures converging on one city fascinates me. The sheer numbers, though, terrify me. I’m not a huge fan of large crowds.

Perhaps, for me, the World Cup provides the most intriguing spectacle. With soccer – the sport adored by the majority of the world, the world championship matters.

In The World Is a Ball, John Doyle explores this worldwide phenomenon. With a dec
Aug 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
p 140
Oct 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Terrific. Loved it.
Stevan McCallum
Jul 02, 2014 rated it liked it
Just before the last World Cup, I was given this book as a gift. Whether it was because I had such a short timeline to read it before the tournament started, or whether the fact that it's a hardcover put me off, I forget. Regardless, I'm glad I got around to reading it. Doyle captures, quite adequately for a North American audience, how strange and wonderful football supporters are.

Anyone coming to the book who is not a footie-follower, will tire of his game recaps, but they shouldn't of his obs
Oct 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Canadian journalist John Doyle provides us with a globe-trotting view of world soccer. Writing for The Globe and Mail and later The New York Times, Doyle has a bird's-eye view of the world's most popular sport. He writes about the 2002, 2006 and 2010 World Cups and the 2004 and 2008 Euro Cups with the enthusiasm of a fan and the dramatic structure of a novelist.

Only occassionaly does he allow his prose to follow the cliches of describing the sport -- the samba of the Brazillians; the plodding oa
Ystyn Francis
Jan 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book made me feel much better about being a football tragic. Doyle's insights into the World Game are given extra credence due to his North American roots, a place that often derides soccer. In particular, the connections he makes between countries' individual histories and how they affect the importance of particular international fixtures between certain teams was often new and interesting to me. Also, his thesis that football mirrors the highs and lows of life, an idea that sounds 'naff' ...more
Mar 28, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: football
Wow! And not a single picture was taken that day.

The story is beautiful (and a great cover), but the quantity of text piled on each other, page after page, makes this a massive book to read. A yellow card for surely, but what would one expect by a journalist. This book took me ages to finish. It’s like 90-minutes + added time beyond infinity long.

A book that any true football fan would love to experience, the travels, the atmosphere and all the football one could see. Two and half footballs.
Emanuel Ramos
Dec 28, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2014
Fun read, but it's not enough for a die-hard soccer fan to take it seriously. I think the author would have really helped his cause if he spent some time cover club soccer instead of strictly focusing on international soccer. The book, to its credit, works as a travelogue with soccer as a backdrop. And if you have some passing knowledge of World Cup soccer, you'll enjoy it. But I feel the book could have been so much more.
Stephen Kennedy
Jun 18, 2010 rated it liked it
Not bad. Not a lot written about the games themselves but the story of the Globe and Mail TV critic with a love for soccer that was able to cover 4 major Soccer championships for his paper. He tells the story of the fans, and the local host cities about the games. Also covers his time reporting on the games and his trials and tribulations.
I had heard him being interviewed on the radio several times last year prior to the World Cup.

If you like the game it's not a bad book.
Alper  Yilmaz
Mar 24, 2014 rated it liked it
A little long winded but an entertaining travelogue that serves as a well versed history of international football tournaments. I enjoyed the 2008 euro section the most; I wish turkey was covered in more detail though we certainly deserved it.

Poor editing takes away from it however, some pretty glaring typos come to mind. I was tempted to give 2 stars but I gave john Doyle 3 for making me laugh out loud on several occasions.
Jun 17, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf
This book doesn't focus on the game as much as it does the writer's experiences traveling to different world tournaments. Although that's interesting, there wasn't much to distinguish each game from the one before it, and the end result was a book that very much felt like a compilation of all his unpublished or rejected articles.
Feb 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Really good insight into soccer culture on and off the pitch. I really felt like I was experiencing these major tournaments with the author and I could feel his passion for the game in his words. I enjoyed it so much I tried to find highlights of some of the matches he described on YouTube. Really recommend it to any sports fans.
May 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
I am thoroughly enjoying a book that is part memoir, part travel adventure, and part meditation on the love of a sport around the world that is just now reaching the U.S. (and it's about time, now that World Cup 2014 has swept us all into the whirlwind of how exciting and amazing national pride and international friendship can be).
Darren Galligan
Once again I think 2.5 stars is more appropriate. A good book and fast read, but really he just narrates the past 4 major football tournaments as told through his personal experiences at or watching the games. Its a nice recap, although short-sighted and I was hoping to learn more about the history and cultures.
Apr 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
A fun review of the author's collective experiences covering the World Cups and Euro championships in the last 10 years of soccer. Somewhat repetitive, especially towards the end, in that it focuses on fan experiences moreso than game action, but a nice recent historical narrative of international soccer nonetheless.
Aug 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this once I came to the grips with his style. This is basically a journalist giving us a flavor of what is involved in covering these events, plus travelogue, plus his feelings on how special the game can be. His expat, outsider view point is refreshing and ultimately makes this work. It does feel long though. What makes one book long and another absorbing? A tricky thing.
Apr 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I've always been a huge fan of the game. Doyle's description of the atmosphere is what I have experienced at the few professional games I've been to. This is a great book and it made me fall even more in love with soccer.
Nov 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
Great narrative about covering major tournaments in foreign countries. Gives a really good insight on what writers go through at enormous events like this.

Met Doyle in person. Class fellow. Knowledgeable and ready to laugh.
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Television Critic, Soccer coverage, at the The Globe and Mail, Canada
Writer fella.
Books: The World Is A Ball: The Joy, Madness & Meaning of Soccer published May 2010. National Bestseller, Canada.
Also published, United Kingdom, Rep. of Ireland, Croatia.
And Published in the U.S. by Rodale.
A Great Feast of Light: Growing Up Irish in the Television Age, published 2005, Doubleday Canada. And a bunc