Must Read Books For A Deeper Understanding Of Soccer

Soccer in a Football World

This book by David Wangerin, published in 1987, is a portrayal of the game he loves in a country filled with indifference towards it. After spending years trying to promote the phenomenon that is soccer in the USA, Wangerin ultimately seeks refuge and more soccer-favourable climate in England. Such strict elimination of the sport is long forgotten nowadays, as is evident on’s selection, but back then, the world was in need of a detailed recount of the game history and terminology, as well as its most primal origins.


How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization

Franklin Foer is the author behind this book written with the purpose of presenting the macrocosm through a microcosmic organism that is the world of soccer. He achieves his goal following the opinions of George Orwell, who used to see international soccer as a covert display of each country’s policies towards one another. The book recognizes the same pattern in distinct societies, where each soccer rivalry is a symbol for an underlying issue. Catholics fought Protestants under the shroud of the Celtic-Rangers rivalry in Glasgow, while Serbia used the battle between Partizan and Red Star football clubs as a means to display right to political power. Ultimately, Foer reaches the point where all his symbols point to the driving force of globalization and its detrimental effects.


Fever Pitch

The memoirs of Nick Hornby have been able to relate his persona to such a wide audience that an individual’s personal musings ultimately reached the status of a soccer must-read publication. They are no more than a series of match recounts that distinguish themselves according to the author’s perception of them – as a child, young man and an adult. He expresses the privileges and the drawbacks of existing as he does in a world where he lived at each time point.


The Damned United

The 2006 publication of The Damned United written by David Peace has since been adapted into a movie starring Michael Sheen. It tells the story of the managerial career of one Brian Clough, who ends up as acting manager of the Leeds United for a short time span of 44 days. Under this character’s narration, you are able to recognize the author’s use of his home scenery – Yorkshire, and his re-imagined version of football as it hadn’t been presented before. Most of the success of this book and its movie adaptation is due to the fictional nature of this storyline that manages to cover up the real life struggles of mangers and players in the 70s.


Futebol: The Brazilian Way of Life

Alex Bellos craftily paints a picture of Brazilian society as it is introduced to soccer for the first time and gradually allows it to grow on everyone’s hearts. In modern times, there is rarely anything as recognizable about this country as their adoration for this sport in all its forms, and Bellos manages to prove this through a colourful rendition of its influence in all spheres of human life. As the story progresses, readers are able to perceive how powerful it actually is, and ultimately understand the respect Brazilians nurture for their national representatives in the ‘holiest of sporting events’.


Seeing Red

This book has caused notable controversy among powerful figures in the Premier League and generally the world of professional soccer. Written by Graham Poll, a referee with a 26 year-long career, it has provided readers with an insightful peek behind the lines of the pitch. It depicts real-life events and conversations Poll has witnessed or participated in, some so astonishing that they crushed the dream-like illusions of Beckham, Terry and Vieira fans, among the rest.


The make-or-break event everyone was interested in is also included in the book – the 2006 World Cup match where he failed to send a Croatian player to the bench after issuing him a string of three yellow cards.