How Soccer Explains The WorldI’ve just finished reading How Soccer Explains the World: An {Unlikely} Theory of Globalization, by Franklin Foer, which I referenced in a previous post back in January.

Foer takes us kicking and screaming around the globe as he introduces us to the hot beds of soccer. From Croatia to Brazil. From the UK to Italy. From Spain to Africa. The impact that the game of soccer has had on the local communitites, politics, governments and our global psyche is presented clearly and colorfully.

I really enjoyed the book immensely. I played the game from the age of 4 (where I was on the GREEN team) till age 21 when I played Division III soccer for my college. Since I haven’t done much international travel… okay, not ANY international travel, this book really opened up for me the dark past – and present – of the international game as it explored the hooliganism and rivalrys around the globe that puts our silly baseball rivalrys to shame. The world’s soccer rivalrys are based on centuries of religious, ethnic and class warfare. Almost makes me want to go hug a Red Sox fan… almost.

I was pumped about reaching the final chapter, because I would finally get to read what Franklin Foer thinks about American soccer after spending the first 90% discussing the rest of the world. I must confess I was slightly disappointed. He tried his hardest to tie soccer to American politics and it just wasn’t convincing. I don’t think soccer is popular enough yet to be able to affect our political systems. He did make a brilliant observation about how American soccer is different from the rest of the world. In America, soccer is an upper-middle class game. Soccer around the globe is traditionally a sport that attracts the lower classes. The stadiums are filled with the iron workers and mechanics, not stock brokers and CFOs.

It’s a good book that’s hard to put down. What more can you ask for?