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Soccernomics [Paperback]

Simon Kuper , Stefan Szymanski
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
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Book Description

24 May 2012

At last, football has its answer to Freakonomics, The Tipping Point and The Undercover Economist.

Why do England lose?”
“Why do Germany & Brazil Win?”
“How have Spain conquered the World?”
"Penalties - what are they good for?"
“What is the price on achieving success and the true cost of failure?”

These are questions every football fan has asked. Soccernomics (previously published as Why England Lose) answers them. Written with an economist's brain and a football writer's skill, it applies high-powered analytical tools to everyday football topics.

Soccernomics isn't in the first place about money. It's about looking at data in new ways. It's about revealing counterintuitive truths about football. It explains all manner of things about the game which newspapers just can't see. It all adds up to a new way of looking at football, beyond clichés about "The Magic of the FA Cup", "England's Shock Defeat" and "Newcastle's New South American Star".

No training in economics is needed to read Soccernomics but the reader will come out of it with a better understanding not just of football, but of how economists think and what they know.

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Soccernomics + Inverting the Pyramid: The History of Football Tactics
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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: HarperSport (24 May 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007457847
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007457847
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 3.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 10,869 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


‘an Arsène Wenger of a book – more thoughtful than most of its rivals and, by football standards, positively intellectual.' The Times

‘Soccernomics is the intellectual's guide to football, written for the layman. No matter what nation, club (or even sport, really) you support, you'll walk away from this book with an insightful new point of view that will cause you to never look at the game quite the same way again.’ Bleacher Report

‘…the author Simon Kuper and the economist Stefan Szymanski do for soccer what “Moneyball” did for baseball.’ New York Times

‘Every page engages, entertains and challenges the lazy assumptions that still dominate football, not merely in its punditry, but all too often in the way that clubs are run.' FourFourTwo

From the Back Cover

‘Compulsive reading’
Daily Telegraph

Does hosting a sports tournament make people happier?
Which country has the most passionate fans?
Is English football racist?
Can football really save lives?

Football truly is the world game, followed in over 200 countries by hundreds of millions of people who each pour their heart and soul into supporting their team every week.

But now an economist and sportswriter have joined forces to bypass the heart and soul and apply their heads to the game, testing the received wisdom and challenging the assumptions of a sport that is quite literally a matter of life and death for some. Forget what you know about football and prepare to question every aspect of the culture surrounding the Beautiful Game.

Soccernomics is the fully revised and updated edition of Why England Lose, with new chapters on football finances and the rise of Spain as the pre-eminent team of our times. Using hard fact and statistics to cut through emotive cliché and outmoded thinking, Soccernomics not only sheds light upon football, it illuminates much about the world we live in now.

‘Takes the breath away’

‘More thoughtful than most of its rivals and, by football standards, positively intellectual.’
The Times

‘Freakonomics for football’

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
By Fraser the Frank Fish VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BEST BOOK BY FAR 16 Dec 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
One of the greatest books I've ever read, if not THE best book!! Amazing not just for me, an economics student, but easily accessible for anyone else! Great insights into football transfers, why teams fail/succeed among other great details. Extremely fascinating book!! Recommended for anyone/everyone!! The best!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars astonishing! 25 Oct 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Really enjoyed this book. A complete revelation. One I'd recommend to others even if only to reduce the number of blond players being signed!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Soccernomics for the true fan 15 Mar 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Excellent book giving the other side of football off the pitch.
Detailed analysis and controversial comment always good for a football fan.
would recommend it to any one interested in football.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly awesome melding of football and numbers... 30 Jan 2013
By Robbie Swale VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I think this is almost certainly the best football book I've ever read, just beating Inverting the Pyramid: The History of Football Tactics: A History of Football Tactics. It's superbly written, the stats, economics and research are well considered and convincing, and overall it's a compelling page-turner of a book.

First, let's set the scene - it's perhaps not surprising that I like this book so much. I have about three hobbies, the main one of which is watching and reading about football. I've been entirely seduced by the Football Weekly/Jonathan Wilson/Blizzard culture of 'thinking people's football'. Not only that, but I'm a maths graduate, and pretty much the only bit of that that has survived my graduation is my love for statistics. So in some ways a book on football, trying to get into the numbers to destroy or confirm the myths around it - and that's essentially what Soccernomics is - sounds perfect for me.

But having said that, I'm not normally a great reader of non-fiction: I need to be engrossed and entertained. And here I truly was.

The book is written by a partnership - Simon Kuper, a journalist, and Stefan Szymanski, an economist - and it is clearly a partnership that works really well. The writing is so accessible, and the skill in presenting what are at times quite complex statistical and economic theories is clear. But that doesn't mean they've watered down the maths - my feeling is that the numbers here make sense, and follow through, and are well thought out. The writers are also open and clear about when and where they are making assumptions, which is a really great demonstration of the thoroughness of the work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Football's Moneyball 29 July 2012
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Every World Cup, every European championship and every local friendly seems to end in heartache for England as a team who "should" win get knocked out by an unlucky situation that is beyond their control. But why? In this Americanised version of the original Why England Lose Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski use statistics and other econometric techniques to try and find out. In true moneyball style they aim to answer the questions of when should you buy a player, can penalty shootouts be controlled and which country has the most fans.

Whether you are a football fan or not this book is definitely an interesting read. While the Americanisation does feel bolted on to the end of chapters in places, the references to the most recent large football competitions and definitely welcome as they bring it bang up to date. The book is well written throughout, in a journalistic but informative style, with enough to keep the most serious football fan entertained while not alienating those less informed about the sport. The tables and statistics are presented in a non-technical and well explained manner keeping it accessible to those without an numerical background. Overall definitely one for football fans and also for anyone with an interest in sport.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 13 days ago by jbricandy
5.0 out of 5 stars pageturner
Very interesting and engaging book, first book in a while i have struggled to put down.
Published 14 days ago by ms rachel elliott
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
Interesting read and theories about football. Will be good to read in years to come to see if any of it comes true
Published 2 months ago by JD Croasdell
5.0 out of 5 stars 95% interesting - and I have the figures to prove it
This is certainly an interesting approach to football writing. The authors have taken the increasing amount of statistics available on football and see what they can do with them. Read more
Published 2 months ago by History Geek
5.0 out of 5 stars Good stuff!
A real eyeopener. Good stuff!
Published 2 months ago by James Nelson
5.0 out of 5 stars Deeply fascinating.
I bought this book as it was on sale but would recommend it's full value as well as it is deeply fascinating with facts and studies that make total sense for England being an... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Mrs F E Pyke
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent
This is a very good book. It opened completely different view points on how football is won and losses and free reasons behind winning
Published 3 months ago by MR E A MCMINIGAL
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting take on Football
I like the use of stats and data to back the arguments in the book on key issues such as Transfers and whether England are overachievers or underachievers.
Published 4 months ago by Daniel Sackey
4.0 out of 5 stars I can't believe football managers don't read this!!
Great facts and a different angle on football. It can be quite hard going at times but some great insights into the history of football.
Published 4 months ago by Mjs red
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating read for fans of football
A must read for all those who are as obsessed with football as me. This book provides a fascinating insight into the world of football both in terms of what the game is really... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Scott Booth
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