A BOOK OF SOCCER by Brian Glanville


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Soccer has begun to catch on in America, but this book may well set back the cause. Glanville conjectures that soccer remained obscure here for so long because it lacked the violence of football--overlooking both the violence which soccer matches engender and the popularity of peaceful baseball. He notes that colleges have not served as soccer's farm system but that there is hope because the ghetto black is ""superbly suited to the game, with his extraordinary reflexes, explosive movement and natural grace."" Thus far, says Britisher Glanville, professional American soccer has been hurt by the dominance of foreign stars and the opportunism of less stellar ""obscure ethnics"" who ""crawled from under stones with little but their Central European accents. . . ."" But Glanville is optimistic because the game is ""democratic,"" unlike football and basketball which require that one be ""physically huge; even a freak"" in order to excel. For American fans, then, Glanville has supplied a history of the growth of the game, with the changes in rules and tactics since their 1863 codification at Cambridge. Each World Cup from 1930 on is summarized with exclamation marks for the victories and ""alas"" for the defeats. The book's second half consists of anecdotes about dozens of players at each of soccer's positions, a roster that includes coaches (Pozzo and Meisl), goal keepers (322-pound Fatty Foulke), defenders (Beckenbauer), strikers (Pel‚ and George Best), wingers (Garrincha), and center forwards (Cruyff). But Glanville never succeeds in portraying the characteristics of each position and the people who play there. Too deadly for the novice, too undeveloped for the initiate.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1979
Publisher: Oxford Univ. Press