Where Does The Washington Football Team Play This Weekend Book Review of Soccernomics by Simon Kuper

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Book Review of Soccernomics by Simon Kuper

Soccer is called “the beautiful game” because of its simplicity and popularity; unlike ice hockey or baseball, it can be played on a patch of dirt with nothing more than a pack of rags. However, football, like any other human activity, reflects more about the people who play than just the scorecard or the trophy. Simon Cooper’s new book Soccernomics takes an in-depth look at the world of the most popular game on the planet to understand trends, suggest the reasons for the current global hierarchy and suggest future countries to become superpowers in global competition.

Cooper begins with a simple question. Football in the modern term began as association football between British clubs and universities. A working man’s game, it lacked the “gentleman’s” rules of cricket, while emphasizing physical play and consistency over strategy and positioning. Thus, England started a century and a half ago, equal to some nations, but they boast only one World Cup victory in the last hundred years. Why, Soccernomics asks, have the titans fallen?

In the book, this issue is more in-depth. It was never the case, says Cooper, of England, but it was doing too much: the tiny island nation is too small to support a large talent pool, too cold to maintain an annual game and too isolated from rivals to foster improvement. He studies the financial decisions of English clubs and explains their poor performances time and time again.

The book also deals with the issue of football on the global circuit.

Economics and performances are interwoven throughout the text. Should big time clubs sign big players for big money? Should the organization be run as a business or as a model of success in the field? Can the franchise wait for a hot player to repeat its success? Cooper often goes against conventional thinking, using clever examples of statistical trends rather than the subjectivity of fans and ownership.

Soccernomics highlights how different countries are ready to take off. Countries like England, France and Italy have huge talent pools and histories of success, but the recent conquests of what were then considered inferior football nations have proven hegemony. The rise of African countries and Asian powerhouses such as Japan and South Korea come to mind. Such upsets, Soccernomics claims, will certainly be the norm, not the exception, for the sport’s foreseeable future.

For those interested in the beautiful game, Soccernomics is an excellent and very informative book that forms part of a collection of soccer books or literature.

2011 Moira G Gallaga©

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