Books & Media

Football Read Review: Explaining the game and its impact


FRANKLIN FOER’s book, How football explains the world is heavily influenced by Simon Kuper’s Football against the enemy, and it shows.

As an essay on why we have so many prejudices and misconceptions, this book provides an easy, go-to source on a broad range of subjects. Did I learn anything new from it? Not a great deal, but it was a very accessible read.

The most enjoyable, or should I say, interesting chapter was how football explains the Jewish question. With so much anti-semitism around at the moment, this struck a chord and also went some way to hitting at the very heart of the issue. Particularly illuminating was the references to Austrian Jewish club Hakoah.

A whole raft of hang-ups and sensitivities are covered by this book – nationalism, Islam, sectarianism, racism, thuggery, new money, old money and politics. Foer has done his best to align football to the world’s greatest problems and he does it well – it is not an easy task.

As the blurb says, football to a lot of people is a way of life, but in many ways it is a reflection of life. Given the number of stakeholders, from supporters to players to owners, it is no surprise that the game encapsulates everything good and bad about the human condition.

Foer may, in his own words, “suck at soccer”, but he writes well about it.

The sort of book to read in one or two sittings. A useful addition to anyone’s football library.

How football explains the world by Franklin Foer is published by Random House.

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