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Sun 03 Apr 2005

How Soccer Explains the World

Category : Commentary/SoccerExplainsTheWorld.txt

I've just finished this book, "How Soccer Explains the World" by Franklin Foer, subtitled, "An {Unlikely} Theory of Globalization".

It didn't seem to get great reviews at Amazon, but I enjoyed it all the same. (One man's meat and all that...)

I'm soccer-mad (or at least I used to when I played it regularly but those days are long gone) and it did set me thinking.

For example, Foer describes a scene from a Celtic-Rangers game where Rangers' Italian defender Lorenzo Amoruso (who's now with Blackburn) celebrated a Rangers goal by turning to the Rangers' supporters and egging them on in their chanting and baiting of Celtic's Catholic supporters.

I know, as most soccer fans do, that Celtic and Rangers occupy opposite ends of the Catholic/Protestant divide. I've watched that scene on TV.

I've often been transfixed by the intensity of the commitment, these Glasgow derbies, and I've been lucky to catch the games a couple of times when the soccer was so much fun.

Now what I didn't know, though I should have guessed, was that Amoruso was Catholic, as Foer mentioned in his book, and he also described what Amoruso's Rangers/Protestant fans were chanting at that time. I couldn't hear it, of course, on the TV. So it was interesting to have the scene described from this other angle. What must have been going on in Amoruso's mind?

This book may not have reached anywhere near its goal - of explaining the state of the world through soccer - but it's a good book to read for a soccer fan who has at least an interest in the rest of the world. It's a different kind of soccer book, for sure.

Sometimes I think I know all about the Catholic/Protestant divide, having been brought up by Protestant aunts, ruled over by a staunch Buddhist matriarch for a grandmother, and, to complete the triangle (and my utter confusion), parents who were Catholics. In the midst of this three-cornered fight, I learnt to trip safely through the minefields of the religious wars from an early age. That's how I ended up a Taoist. I walk the middle path. And I attended Catholic schools all my life! So it's with some sadness to mark the passing of the Pope. May he rest in peace.

Posted at 5:18PM UTC | permalink


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