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Outcasts! The Lands That FIFA Forgot Hardcover – Illustrated, 30 Nov 2007
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Shortlisted for the 2008 NSC football book of the year award
"Outcasts! is a must-read for all football fans." --Sporting Life
"One book to intrigue the discerning reader this Christmas." --Sunday Telegraph
"Buy this!" --The Times
"Menary is an admirably sure-footed guide ... he never loses sight of the human stories ... a gentle meditation not merely on the power of football, but also on what it means to be a country." --Jonathan Wilson, When Saturday Comes
"Lively, informative." --The Independent on Sunday
"There are a great many cherishable anecdotes to be found, and the issues he raises, while often perplexing, are of considerable relevance in international football. Menary is an enthusiast with a talent for getting the best out of his interviewees and a keen eye for the encapsulating episode, such as the time that a Greenland cup semi-final being played on a seaside pitch was interrupted by a tidal wave when an iceberg capsized. --Daily Telegraph
"Thought provoking questions about the nature of national identity." --Four Four Two
Excellent... Outcasts is as good as it gets --Birmingham Post
"Once in a while a book comes along with an unusual subject matter that captures the imagination and Menary's Outcasts falls into that category." --Yorkshire Post
"A thoroughly absorbing and entertaining examination of the issues involved, never threatening to outstay its welcome." --Isle of Man Today
"A fascinating insight." --Guernsey Press & Star
Excellent! --Scotland on Sunday
"Outcasts! is a great book, about the love of the game that makes people want to take part and how FIFA make their odd decisions." --The League magazine
A most underrated read. In the course of 224 pages, Menary embarks on a journey that at the outset appears to encompass only the periphery of the beautiful game, but quickly transcends into an absorbing study of football's global pulse. Beyond the sickly world of lavishly over marketed club brand coverage, the grim realities of life and football's role as an escape are illustrated perfectly here. Outcasts! leads you well away from FIFA's comfort zone with pied piper like Menary the most compelling of guides. Sepp Blatter would not want you to read this book, and that alone should be complete justification for doing so."
"Outcasts! The Lands That FIFA Forgot" examines the much tarnished reputation of FIFA, the governing body of world football, and just how they justify the exclusion of some 'nations' from their organisation while welcoming others. For two years, Steve Menary traced the incredible journeys of the teams that FIFA refuse to recognise - either for reasons of political expediency, or because FIFA just believed they could not compete with the likes of Montserrat on the world stage. Intrigued by just why anyone would want to play for such no hoper 'nations', he became drawn into a scene which surprised him in its positive approach to both the beautiful game and nationalism, and eventually resulted in the FIFI (Federation of International Football Independents) 'Wild Cup', featuring teams from officially non-existent countries such as Zanzibar, Greenland, Tibet and Northern Cyprus, being successfully staged in Germany prior to the FIFA World Cup in 2006.Along the way, he discovered the dentist from Greenland who risked his career to play for his 'country', the pitch battle amongst kit manufacturers to sponsor the Tibetan national football team and why the Gibraltan 'national' football team might just force an end to centuries of dispute over the rock between Britain and Spain.
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Recent legal haranguing has seen the territory of Gibraltar gain UEFA membership, playing their first fully fledged international match in November 2013. Their admission to the European governing body was so controversial given Spain’s refusal to accept their membership application and the fact that UEFA and FIFA changed their rules, but crucially only after Gibraltar’s original application, to exclude non-independent territories. Only excluding those not already in the club that is. The likes of Faroe Islands, Cayman Islands, Montserrat, Anguilla and Turks & Caicos Islands may not be independent nations but they are already part of football’s world.
In this book Steve Menary explores football in some of the world’s smaller aspiring “national” football teams, from Gibraltar to Jersey, Guernsey, Greenland, Northern Cyprus and Tibet among others. What comes across in every tale of dashed dreams is a love of the game and a simple desire to be able to represent their “nation” on a grander stage than they are currently allowed. For many, local clashes such as the annual Jersey – Guernsey match are the main focus of their ambitions. The Islands Games provides a more international flavour to their ambitions as does the VIVA World Cup and the Non-FIFA Board of football nations. This is the official club for the officially excluded.
With interviews from players and officials from the various national teams he visited, Menary paints a sad picture of nations striving for acceptance. That’s not to say that all of the teams featured in the book want to become part of FIFA – for some that would represent a step too far, the reasons for which Menary delves into in the book. Some of the reasons are political, some are practical, but in each differing case this book reveals one common love of the game and passion for representing their people.
Particularly in view of Gibraltar’s recent progression to the ranks of UEFA’s nations this book makes for an interesting read, and shines a light on various footballing backwaters that are kept from the collective consciousness of most football fans by their lack of FIFA’s backing. Written in an engaging style, only occasionally venturing into detail overkill, Menary educates and informs the reader leaving you hoping for more recognition for those “nations” who want it, or at the very least more opportunities to play and represent their people.
What comes through is the myriad of reasons behind why certain nations can’t be represented. Needless to say, the hypocrisy of FIFA or its regional subsidiaries is a recurring theme. For example the case of CONCACAF allowing membership to various non-independent territories merely it seems to boost its voting bloc within FIFA. But other countries are excluded for not being independent, despite having the same status as those accepted through CONCACAF.
FIFA gets to decide who is in and who is out, and creates its own world map accordingly. For the areas of the world not a part of that map, finding opposition to play is a challenge, and for those organisations trying to bring them together the road is a constantly tricky one.
The book contains so many fascinating stories, that it is difficult to pick one single out. One of my favorite is the story about football on the Falklands Islands, where the passion for football and politics are mixed together. The story about Chris Clarke, who went to take a trial in Boca Juniors, is an intersting example of this mixture. Another fascinating story is about the football in Greenland, where players have to travel long dangerous distances to play football matches, which sometime has tragically consequences.
OUTCASTS is also a very topical. The tiny British colony, Gibraltar, is at the moment trying once again to become a member of UEFA. Gibraltar's membership will be taken up to account at the UEFA Congress in 2013, when all UEFA's members will vote on whether Gibraltar will receive a membership or not. This is certainly not the first time Gibraltar is trying to become member of UEFA. The book describes very well Gibraltar's attempt in 2007 to become a member of UEFA, but where the football giant, Spain, threatened to boycott UEFA if Gibraltar was given a membership.
For me personally the book, Outcasts, is very interesting. I come from the Faroe Islands, which is not an independent nation under the UN. The Faroe Islands did, however, get membership in UEFA and FIFA in 1988. It is difficult to describe how much this has meant for the development of football on the Faroe Islands, and also for the national feeling of being Faroese. The membership in UEFA and FIFA has clearly put the Faroe Islands on the world map, and, after the swimming superstar Pál Joensen,the Faroese National Football Team is today, rightly so, regarded as one of the most important ambassadors for the Faroese nation. I therefore fully understand the dream, passion and determination of all these countries to become a part of the "football family", as Blatter usually calls FIFA's members. You can't do anything else than admire all these peoples, who are behind these football associations, persistently pushing for their case no matter how the chances, of FIFA to open the gates, look like.
I will therefore recommend everyone who would like to get a different angle of the beutiful game to read Steve Menary's book OUTCASTS.
Inside it's 20 chapters you go from Tibet to Kosovo and from Gibraltar to Monaco. You learn how ordinary people in Greenland risk their lives just for a game of football and how politics hold the North Cyprus football team in limbo.
If you want to explore new football cultures and read exciting stories, Outcasts is one of the best books in sports literature.
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