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6 Best Books for Soccer and World Cup Fans

Despite many predications that Americans will finally become huge soccer fans, that reality hasn’t happened just yet. But, many Americans do get excited every four years for the World Cup.

Futebol!

What are the best soccer books? Here are 6 soccer books to keep you reading during the World Cup and beyond. If you have a favorite Soccer book that we didn’t include, let us know in the comments below.

The Ball is Round: A Global History of Football, by David Goldblatt

The Ball is Round cover

This massive tome (992 pages in hardcover) is the definitive history of soccer.

In this extraordinary tour de force, David Goldblatt tells the full story of soccer’s rise from chaotic folk ritual to the world’s most popular sport-now poised to fully establish itself in the USA. Already celebrated internationally, The Ball Is Round illuminates soccer’s role in the political and social histories of modern societies, but never loses sight of the beauty, joy, and excitement of the game itself.

The Complete Book of the World Cup

The Complete Book of the World Cup is the most comprehensive history ever written about the quest for world sport’s most coveted trophy.

First published in 1998, this is the first time Cris Freddi’s masterpiece has been made available as an ebook. It describes every major action in the World Cup finals, on and off the pitch, from the first tournament in 1930 through to Spain’s victory in 2010. An ideal companion for the 2014 tournament in Brazil. Written in his sharp and uncompromising style, it includes match reports, line-ups, goalscorers, attendances, and much more for every game ever played in the World Cup finals.

Freddi’s research is meticulous. He has closely studied film and television footage and has scoured the world for previously untapped primary sources to separate fact from fiction. Freddi tells the story as he sees it. This is not an official history and he is not afraid to voice his opinion. Most people bow to FIFA’s decision to credit Ronaldo with 15 goals in the finals. But Freddi points to Brazil’s opening goal against Costa Rica in the 2002 finals, where the video evidence clearly shows it to be an own goal. So Freddi lists Ronaldo only as the joint all-time leading scorer in the finals alongside Miroslav Klose and Gerd Muller. He also deprives Rio Ferdinand of his first goal for England!

Why Soccer Matters by
Pelé and Brian Winter

Why Soccer Matters

Before Messi, before Ronaldo, before Beckham, there was Edson Arantes do Nascimento—known simply as Pelé. A national treasure, he created pure magic with his accomplishments on the field: an unprecedented three World Cup championships and the all-time scoring record, with 1,283 goals in his twenty year career.

For the first time ever Pelé explores the recent history of the game and provides new insights into soccer’s role connecting and galvanizing players around the world. He has traveled the world as the global ambassador for soccer and in support of charitable organizations such as Unicef, promoting the positive influences soccer can have to transform young men and women, struggling communities, even entire nations. In groundbreaking detail and with unparalleled openness, he shares his most inspiring experiences, heartwarming stories and hard-won wisdom, and he puts the game in perspective.

The Miracle of Castel di Sangro: A Tale of Passion and Folly in the Heart of Italy by Joe McGinniss

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When Joe McGinniss sets out for the remote Italian village of Castel di Sangro one summer, he merely intends to spend a season with the village’s soccer team, which only weeks before had, miraculously, reached the second-highest-ranking professional league in the land. But soon he finds himself embroiled with an absurd yet irresistible cast of characters, including the team’s owner, described by the New York Times as “straight out of a Mario Puzo novel,” and coach Osvaldo Jaconi, whose only English word is the one he uses to describe himself: “bulldozer.”

As the riotous, edge-of-your-seat season unfolds, McGinniss develops a deepening bond with the team, their village and its people, and their country. Traveling with the miracle team, from the isolated mountain region where Castel di Sangro is located to gritty towns as well as grand cities, McGinniss introduces us to an Italy that no tourist guidebook has ever described, and comes away with a “sad, funny, desolating, and inspiring story–everything, in fact, a story should be” (Los Angeles Times).

Eight World Cups: My Journey through the Beauty and Dark Side of Soccer by George Vecsey

On the eve of the 2014 World Cup, New York Times sports columnist George Vecsey offers a personal perspective on the beautiful game

Blending witty travelogue with action on the field—and shady dealings in back rooms—George Vecsey offers an eye-opening, globe-trotting account of the last eight World Cups. He immerses himself in the great national leagues, historic clubs, and devoted fans and provides his up-close impressions of charismatic stars like Sócrates, Maradona, Baggio, and Zidane, while also chronicling the rise of the U.S. men’s and women’s teams.

Vecsey shows how each host nation has made the World Cup its own, from the all-night street parties in Spain in 1982 to the roar of vuvuzelas in South Africa in 2010, as the game in the stadium is backed up by the game in the street. But the joy is sometimes undermined by those who style themselves the game’s protectors.

With his characteristic sharp reporting and eye for detail, Vecsey brings this global event to vivid life and has written a perfect companion for the upcoming 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby

Nick Hornby has been a soccer fan since the moment he was conceived. Fever Pitch is his tribute to a lifelong obsession. Part autobiography, part comedy, part incisive analysis of insanity, Hornby’s award-winning memoir captures the fever pitch of fandom—its agony and ecstasy, its community, its defining role in thousands of young men’s coming of age stories. Fever Pitch is one for the home team. But above all, it is one for everyone who knows what it really means to have a losing season.

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