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The classic winner of the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award

‘None matches this global examination for originality, breadth and sheer courage’ MAIL ON SUNDAY

‘If you like football, read it. If you don’t like football, read it’ THE TIMES

Throughout the world, football is a potent force in the lives of billions of people. Focusing national, political and cultural identities, football is the medium through which the world’s hopes and fears, passions and hatreds are expressed.

Simon Kuper travelled to 22 countries from South Africa to Italy, from Russia to the USA, to examine the way football has shaped them. At the same time he tried to find out what lies behind each nation’s distinctive style of play, from the carefree self-expression of the Brazilians to the anxious calculation of the Italians. During his journeys he met an extraordinary range of players, politicians and – of course – the fans themselves, all of whom revealed in their different ways the unique place football has in the life of the planet.


If you like football, read it. If you don't like football, read it
Simon Barnes, The Times
This is a wonderful book written under great duress at times and full of the spirit of youthful exuberance and curiosity that runs way beyond the touchline
Time Out
Quality soccer books have mushroomed ... but none matches this global examination for originality, breadth and sheer courage
Mail on Sunday
Another great work on soccer ... effervescent and hilarious
A terrific book