5 Books To Read During The World CupSubmitted by Castlebar Asset Management on June 16th, 2014
The World Cup is well underway but today is the day that US soccer fans have been waiting for as the USMNT kicks off against Ghana. This year’s World Cup has been fantastic so far with scoring up dramatically over the 2010 edition. You won’t find a quantitative breakdown of each squad or some study of how a nation’s economic productivity explains their performance on the field. Others have done this well already.
If you want to understand a county or region’s culture you have to understand their sports landscape. The two are intertwined. This book looks at how soccer can explain social, economic, political and religious issues in different regions. It also talks about how globalization and imitation have and will impact the game. If you are a novice soccer fan or a long time supporter this is worth picking up.
This is the Moneyball of soccer. If you enjoyed the marriage analytics and sports than this is a great read. The book talks about everything from why some nations will win the World Cup, others won’t (they make the case that England is an outperformer!?!) and the optimal strategy for taking penalties. Spolier alert, kick it straight ahead.
I just finished this book a few days before the World Cup started. George Vecsey offers his perspective and a history lesson of each of the last eight World Cups. He starts with the 1982 World Cup in Spain and continues through 2010 in South Africa. If you are looking for an intro to the recent history of the World Cup this does an excellent job giving you an overview of the US’s performance as well as other highlights. I found myself as jealous of his experience getting to live in each county for a month at a time as watching so many amazing matches.
Joe McGinnis takes you through a season where the tiny town of Castel di Sangro in central Italy plays in the second division of Italian soccer. This book connects soccer, local culture and interesting characters in a brillant mix. A review describes it as showing a side of Italy that no travel book will ever tell you about it. That is just about a perfect description. I am planning to read this again during the World Cup.
This book is less about soccer and more about the culture of the 1980’s hooligans in England. Bill Buford is an amazing writer and he ingrained himself in hooligan groups as the landscape was shifting towards the money driven sport of today. It is fascinating to read how organized these groups were and how dark they were outside of soccer.
Enjoy the World Cup. If you have any other suggestions please leave them in the comments below. I am always looking to add to my reading list.
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