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Soccernomics: Why England Lose, Why Germany and Brazil Win, and Why the U.S., Japan, Australia, Turkey and Even India are Destined to Become the New Kings of the World's Most Popular Sport Paperback – 6 Oct 2009

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Nation Books; Original edition (6 Oct. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1568584253
  • ISBN-13: 978-1568584256
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.1 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 513,592 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

LONGLISTED FOR THE WILLIAM HILL SPORTS BOOK OF THE YEAR 2009"Daily Telegraph" "If you're a football fan, I'll save you some time: read this book ... compulsive reading ... thoroughly convincing.""Observer" "Szymanksi has recently published the best introduction to sports economics ... while Kuper is probably the smartest of the new generation of super-smart sportswriters ... fascinating stories.""Metro" "[Kuper and Szymanski] basically trash every cliche about football you ever held to be true. It's bravura stuff ... the study of managers buying players and building a club is one you'll feel like photocopying and sending to your team's chairman"Paddy Harverson, former communications director of Manchester United, "Financial Times" "Demolishes ... many soccer shibboleths ... well argued, too. Szymanski, an economist, knows his stuff, and Kuper, a born contrarian and FT sports writer, is incapable of cliche ... great stories and previously unknown nuggets.""Sport Magazine" "One for the thinkers""The Times" "More thoughtful than most of its rivals and, by football standards, postively intellectual ... Kuper, a brilliantly contrary columnist, and Szymanski, an economics professor ... find plenty of fertile territory in their commendable determination to overturn the lazy preconceptions rife in football.""Prospect" "Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski are a highly effective and scrupulously rational team, combining the former's detailed and nuanced understanding of European football with the latter's sophisticated econometric analysis. With a remarkable lightness of touch, they desmonstrate the limits of conventional thinking in football, as well as the real patterns of behaviour that shape sporting outcomes."

About the Author

Simon Kuper is one of the world's leading writers on soccer. His book "Soccer Against the Enemy" won the William Hill Prize for sports book of the year in Britain. He writes a weekly sports column in the "Financial Times." He lives in Paris.Stefan Szymanski is professor of economics and MBA Dean at Cass Business School in London. Tim Harford has called him "one of the world's leading sports economists." Szymanski lives in London.

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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on 12 Jun. 2010
Format: Paperback
This is the US version of "Why England Lose: and Other Curious Phenomena Explained", with some small differences; the chapter on the FA Cup is replaced by one comparing Association Football with American Football, and the language is americanised. Anyway here's my review based on the English version.

I've read quite a bit of S&K's work as part of my MSc and although I don't necessarily always, or indeed often, agree with their reasoning, they do make interesting points. "Why England Lose..." is a departure into the mainstream from their early, more academic work and judging from the jaunty tone of the book they had great fun writing it, and aimed at rattling some cages along the way.

However, to appeal to a wider audience much of the academic rigour which I would normal associate with S&K is abandoned and conclusions are reached on some rather shallow arguments. A reader not familiar with the use and misuse of statistics should bear in mind that correlation does not constitute causality, and that if at first your stats don't support your hypothesis you can normally rummage around for some that do. This is not knocking S&K in any way and I wouldn't suggest that S&K have done this at all, but academic bias is a common phenomenon and often hard to resist.

Two chapters of the books were particularly interesting - one, regarding the nature of fandom, for its mythbusting and the second, regarding the inherent racism in the game, for perpetuating a flawed myth.

In drawing attention to the nature of a fan and the churn of fans at particular clubs, S&K have aimed a strong, square kick at the goolies of one of the game's sacred cows, and about time too. I'm fed up being told by people how they've followed Chelsea/Man Utd since before they were good.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Bacchus TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 7 Dec. 2010
Format: Paperback
While you might not agree with the conclusions made by the writers in the book, you can't deny that it is a fascinating application of economic theory to football. It certainly gave me food for thought.

The thing that surprised me while I was reading the book was that I was taken more by the writers' methodology than the actual subject matter. I loved the way that something as romantic as footballing glory can be analysed using regression analysis. I never thought that I would see a mathematician like Gauss mentioned in a book about football.

Having said that, the romantic football fan in me still hopes for glory and wants his team to do better than the statistical factors would suggest it should. The book seems to suggest a degree of fatalism in football which I would love to disprove but expect I can't.
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By cfz on 25 Dec. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Pretty interesting look at the statistical side of football.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. A. Bradish on 26 Jun. 2014
Format: Paperback
I have noticed during this World Cup (Brazil 2014) the common denominator to losing or just drawing is the dumb white kits that make players stand out and telegraph their intent of movement in body language. To illustrate here are some results: France in white kit fail to score against Nigeria- resulting in a draw. Honduras in White kit lose to Switzerland. USA in white kit lose to Germany . Most disappointing, England lose twice and draw once wearing white kit. This can not just be coincidence ?
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1 of 7 people found the following review helpful By James Cameron Howes on 27 April 2010
Format: Paperback
I loved freakonomics and am a huge soccer fan so I was excited about reading this book. However I found parts of it lazy for example in the last chapter characterizing Russia as a underdeveloped sporting nation and therefore neglecting their performance in Euro 88 and various other tournaments or more criminally failing to mention Valeriy Lobanovskyi who while a Ukranian, operated in the Soviet league. Furthermore it suggests Australia's soccer development started with Guus Hiddink without mention of Terry Venables.

It also fell in to the trap that many "intellectual" football writers fall in to of praising Arsene Wenger to the hilt. This lazy cliche neglects the fact that for all his skill he hasn't won half as many trophies as Manchester United in his management of Arsenal.

The best moments of the book are interesting in a "huh that makes sense" way rather than a mind blowing transformative way. The use of economic models only really shows so much about a game that has too many variables to calculate. Of course countries with experience, money and population will win more often. Congratulations on stating the blindingly obvious.
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