Most helpful critical review
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Used to the scandals by now...
on 11 December 2009
It probably says more about me and the times we live in than about the book but I didn't think the book was half as scandalous as I had expected it to be. It was with a sense of, 'Yeah but I figured this was going on already' that I read this. Perhaps it is also because I started reading this book a little bit too late and it's now perhaps slightly out of date. Having said that, if you replaced the name Havelange with the name Blatter and changed the dates, my guess is that the book is as up-to-date as anything.
Other disappointing things for me were Yallop's obsession with Maradonna's handball and other incidents that somehow disadvantaged the English squad and his strange symbolism of Brazilian football with the beautiful game. I agree that the Brazil team with Pelé were nothing short of magical, of what I have seen on videos. However, pre-Pelé and certainly post-Pelé there have also been numerous times that we saw the ugly, boring and cheating sides of Brazilian football. To say that Havelange stole the game and that game was or is epitomized by Brazilian football is a over the top.
For me this is an issue because he writes at length about the state of Brazilian football and how Havelange's son-in-law has corrupted it. I am sure this is the case but I am sure this is the case elsewhere too and for such a great investigator to ignore this was disappointing.
On the upside, this is a tremendous body of work in terms of Yallop's research. It is written very clearly and believably and it basically a good read. What is also prevalent is Yallop's passion for football. He shares the normal person's love for the beautiful game and is obviously aggravated by its decline. I, too, have sat in virtually quiet stadiums without any atmosphere and as an Arsenal fan, there was quite a lot of sad truth in the last line of the epilogue but I'll let you read that for yourself.