Think about the popularity of FIFA the next time you see a 10-year old wearing the jersey of a team that plays in Spain. The billions of dollars in endorsements, the world-famous players it produces and the rabid passion of its fans have sustained the power of an organization that has produced the highest-paid team Athlete (Christiano Ronaldo, $80 million dollars: via Forbes) and the highest valued team (Real Madrid, $3.4 billion dollars: Via Forbes). The next World Cup, held in Qatar, will cost approximately $200 billion dollars. Many have asked: How does such a small country, with no soccer culture to speak of, get awarded a World Cup? As a country with no press freedom and lax worker protections, reporters believe that one laborer dies every two days as a result of World Cup Construction (Washington Post: The Human Toll of FIFA’s Corruption).
Soccer is a widely popular sport with fans in almost every continent. It’s beauty lies in its simplicity: A round ball and a few players formed into two teams. Played in dusty alleyways, concrete playgrounds, deserts that can be imagined as a pitch, expansive fields and indoors, soccer can be played anywhere. With hard work and talent, it can be a way to immense richness for anyone alive. As its popularity grows in the United States, our understanding of how organizations work can go a little further with the following books and DVDs. If you are interested in international organizations, sports, the developing world and international relations, pick up these books and DVDs from the Library:
Soccer in sun and shadow / Eduardo Galeano ; translated by Mark Fried.
A fast-paced read by one of Latin-America’s most critical writers, Galeano describes the players of the world’s most popular sport and their relationship with the personality and culture of the country they represent.
The two Escobars [videorecording DVD] / ESPN Films
The 90s were a time of tragedy in Colombia, although the success of the National Team provided escape and pride for the beleaguered nation. Expected to win the World Cup in 1994, the Colombian Goalkeeper made a mistake that led his team to be eliminated. His mistake led to his murder by the gang of the Drug Kingpin, Pablo Escobar. A tragic documentary about the intersection between the Colombian Drug War and Soccer.
The Soccer diaries : an American’s thirty-year pursuit of the international game / Michael J. Agovino.
My Father was at the game where the writer Agovino first fell in love with the Sport: Giants Stadium, 1982. A personal narrative of the author who has traveled the world, met with bewildered super fans (An American that loves soccer?), passionately followed and traced the popularity of a sport that has held little regard in the USA until now.
Eight World Cups : my journey through the beauty and dark side of soccer / George Vecsey.
A thoroughly researched book by a veteran journalist who has covered eight World Cups for the NY Times, Vecsey digs deep in this book to allow the reader to understand its worldwide appeal, the personalities of its highest-paid stars, executive-level corruption and rise in domestic popularity.
Distant corners : American soccer’s history of missed opportunities and lost causes / David Wangerin.
Why has Soccer in the United States been a failure? A fast-paced narrative of its relative successes and failures in the last hundred years through National and College Leagues.
The day a team died / Frank Taylor.
A shocking eyewitness account by the only journalist who survived a plane crash that killed 23 passengers, 8 being members of the Manchester United Football Club. Taylor retells the expectations of the team, the plane crash, and the power of a team to rebuild after such a violent tragedy.