A compelling take on Turkish football and how influential it can be upon society.
First and foremost this isn't a book dedicated solely to football. About 60% of the book relates to the sport whilst the remainder delves into the political realm of the country. So if you hope to read up on the big three (Gala, Fener and Besiktas) you'll have to look elsewhere. It certainly is an eye opener with regards to how perilous the financial side of the sport is. Clubs are drowning in debt (which continues to rise), whilst clubs are owned and run by some seriously dodgy characters. The book illustrates just how important football is to Turkish society. Despite falling attendances over the last few years (due to a new ticket/card scheme linked to a major Turkish bank with links to the AKP), football is an undoubtable pillar throughout the country. At times it is seen as an activity for supporters to vent some steam or political views. Without football the Turkish authorities may struggle to contain such emotions. The book never really paints a very positive image of Erdogan, illustrating his moves to crack down on opposition in any shape or form. The skulduggery involving money and contracts surrounding his ever expanding construction empire. The latter stages of the book perhaps become a little too political as the links with football become weaker. Perhaps the author (also a journalist) wished to shine a light on stories that had a personal connection. Who knows but it felt preachy towards the end and more of a comment on the social aspect of the country and region as a whole (LGBT rights, refugee crisis etc)
Certainly worth reading for a better perspective on the country and how the sport factors into the chaos.
Without much prior knowledge of Turkish society or football, I found this an engaging and witty read. A nice mix of historical context of the nation with a modern perspective of a rapidly shifting and unstable region, sprinkled with great stories of some real maverick characters. You don't have to know anything about Turkey or its football teams to enjoy this, just an interest in people's motivations and flaws (and possibly also their facial hair). A great read!