10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
This book is the definitive guide to Latin American football,
By A Customer
This review is from: The Beautiful Game: A Journey through Latin American Football (Paperback)
This book, along with Simon Kuper's excellent 'Football Against The Enemy', is as definitve a guide explaining the close links between football and politics. Concentrating on Latin American football, rather than Kuper's more global view, Taylor details his travels through some of the most passionate footballing countries, and takes us behind the scenes of some of footballs most historic moments. The chapter on Brazilian football is especially fascinating, listing not only the famous players and their rise to fame ( The Brazilian national team's doctor said Pele did not have the right physique or attitude to play at international level! ) but also the domestic leagues shambolic setup. I genuinely couldn't believe that the Brazilian football association changed the leagues rules to give more protection to flair players, purely to boost crowds. Of course, the knock on effect this had on the national side, who would play teams who were not constrained in such a way, could be seen in their poor results (defeated by Norway!).
Another chapter that stands out is the Colombian chapter, which talks at great lenght about the corruption inherent in the colombian game, and also has a poignant look at the shooting of the Colombian international defender Escobar after the world cup in USA 1994. Goalkeeper Rene Higuita was talked out of retirement with a small bomb planted on the training grounds.
Taylor goes through all of these difficult subjects, but never looses his enthusiasm, or his firm grip on the human aspects of this simple game. His writing style is excellent and easy to get into. His sources are incredibly well researched, and painstakingly detailed. The bibliography for this work must contain every other book on the subject, as Taylor has consulted many different texts in may different languages.
Quite simply, this book is a masterpiece, and is a must have for anyone with even the remotest interest in football. It is hard to believe a lot of what you are reading, it is so incredible. The Argentinian dictator Peron bribing teams to loose the world cup matches against his native argentina? it's all here, and with about as much 'real' evidence as anybody could muster. This book is as educational and informative as it is enjoyable.
(1 customer review)