An Intro To The World of Soccer
For a long time, soccer has been the most popular sport in many places all over the world. Much of South America, Europe, Africa and Asia are crazy for the game. It seems as though the United States was resistant to it for a long time, but it has slowly but surely been gaining momentum here. Whether due to the incredible success of the United States Women’s National Team, the availability to watch the best leagues in the world on US television, or generations of American kids growing up playing soccer, it feels as though it finally has a foothold here. These few books might be a great place to start learning about the beautiful game.
Club Soccer 101 by Luke Dempsey
If you are interested in learning about the history of professional soccer but are unsure how to start with such a global sport, Club Soccer 101 is an excellent introduction. It describes the histories of 101 “club” teams from dozens of leagues around the world. It looks at some of the world’s biggest and most well-known clubs, like Manchester United, Real Madrid, and Juventus, but it also focuses on essential clubs in lesser known soccer leagues, like Galatasaray in Turkey, Olympiakos in Greece, and Boca Juniors in Argentina. In brief and lively capsules, you learn about the character, history, and most famous players and matches for each of these essential teams. This book goes a long way to illustrate why the game has caught on virtually all over the world, and allows the reader to learn a little about many of those teams fans are so passionate about.
The Soccer Book, by David Goldblatt
Written by one of the foremost experts on the game, The Soccer Book is a wonderful and broad introduction to the sport of soccer. This book covers many parts of the global game, from the most important leagues, teams, and tournaments such as the World Cup, to discussions of rules, strategy and tactics, using visual aids to illustrate many of the points being discussed. Curious about what it means to be “offside”? Have heard about “The Hand of God” goal but are not sure what it is? These questions, along with countless others, are addressed in a comprehensive but still accessible way in this title.
Masters of Modern Soccer, by Grant Wahl
A more current look at the world of soccer, this title investigates deeply how a small number of world-class players and managers thrive. The author spends time with American forward Christian Pulisic, German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, and various other individuals, and learns how they see the game of soccer, both as the game itself and as the industry and global phenomenon that it has become. Additionally, he speaks with the manager of the Belgian men’s national team and the sporting director (sort of a general manager) of Borussia Dortmund, one of the most exciting and successful teams in Germany, to get an executive level view. If after being introduced to the game you are looking for a deeper dive, this might be the title for you.
Eight World Cups, by George Vescey
This title takes a birds-eye view of the last few decades of global soccer through the lens of the most prestigious international tournament in the sport, The World Cup. The author looks at both the inspiring and the slightly more sinister sides of the game, sometimes within the same individuals. He discusses icons like Argentina’s Diego Maradona, Brazil’s Socrates, and France’s Zinedine Zidane, as well as looking at the back-room politics that likely affect the sport much more than a spectator might want to know. Vecsey has been a sportswriter for nearly a half century, and his research and passion shine through.
Under The Lights and In The Dark: Untold Stories of Women’s Soccer, by Gwendolyn Oxenham
This book looks at the often neglected world of women’s soccer. Every four years during the Women’s World Cup, there is a great amount of attention paid to these players, but this book looks at the contrast between those times and the often difficult life during the gaps between those tournaments. Looking at women’s soccer all over the world, the author highlights stories of persistence and skill that show the difficulties of pursuing a career in women’s soccer, and shows the extraordinary women who continue to follow their dreams.