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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nearly 1000 pages on the history of football .....back of the net, 1 Nov 2006
This review is from: The Ball is Round: A Global History of Football (Hardcover)
992 Pages on football. .....flippin heck. David Goldblatt has written an exhuastative absorbing examination of football and its impact on the world in the context of social, cultural and economic change. As well as serving as a potted history of the game , including overviews of the careers of some of the greats -Pele, Maradona ,Best, Puskas , Lampard( only joking)- it more accurately and assiduously traces the game from it's original working class roots ( or as a ill disciplined ritual) to the mass marketed global phenomenon it is today.

The author covers most of the demographic shifts in the games annals. How football can be used as a political tool -Mussolini, Stalin and the Argentinean Junta in 1978 most pertinently - and how these political machinations can lead to tragedy like the killing of Columbian defender Escobar after he scored an own goal in the World Cup finals. He charts the rise of Africa as a football power and the mass migration of African players spurred on by the success of George Weah. How the game can be used as a placebo for the masses and exploited by nefarious individuals and how the broadcasting frenzy has triggered the inequitable playing field we have today. Leading to a super breed of club gorging on the cream while the lower leagues are left to sift through the scraps.

The section on the rise of the great teams like The Hungary of the 50,s and the Brazil of the 70,s is fascinating while chapters on such prosaic items as the football boot and the architecture of Stadiums are not as dull as you would think. Goldblatt is not a massively gifted writer. You will not be dazzled by pithy turns of phrase or delightful poetic prose but he has done his research and he can put it across in a straightforward way with no pretension or pomposity.

I was left to regret the advent of football as a mega business or a corporate tool best summed by a real Madrid director who when asked why the club had not bought Ronaldino said with complete seriousness that "He is so ugly he would sink you as a brand". I take it Wayne Rooney will not be gracing the Bernabau anytime soon.
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4.7 out of 5 stars (17 customer reviews)
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