A veteran sports commentator shares the hard-nosed, insider machinations of the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
A Chicago-based columnist and analyst for Fox Soccer Channel, Trecker got his first taste of World Cup fever at the 2002 games co-hosted (for the first time) by political rivals South Korea and Japan, in which the United States surprisingly progressed to the quarterfinals. Four years later, the author found himself in the commerce-driven German city of Leipzig, witnessing a rather lackluster team-placement ceremony at the start of a commissioned four-week tour of Germany for the 2006 World Cup. Finely balancing his personal experiences with comprehensive historical detail, and a generous supply of factoid footnotes, Trecker begins with the basics, explaining that the games are the end result of four years of carefully tracked worldwide competitions wherein 210 nations vie for 32 coveted placement slots. He ponders the controversial host-city selection process and profiles such better known team managers as suave, seasoned veteran “Bora” Milutinovic from Serbia and Wayne Rooney, pride of the Manchester team and polar opposite of “remote tabloid figure” David Beckham. A guaranteed cash cow, the World Cup event was positioned by Germany as “the biggest sales event the planet had ever seen,” even as that country continued to struggle with spiking unemployment rates and the residual shock of Eastern bloc unification. Trecker traveled to Hamburg, the United States’s home-base city; Munich, where he unexpectedly was housed in the gay district surrounded by Asian-staffed brothels and adult novelty shops peddling “World Cup–branded sex toys”; and onward to a spontaneous pub crawl in Frankfurt with the ever-thirsty English fans. Two weeks into the tournament, however, the author fell seriously ill, delaying his coverage (and the publication of this book). He recovered in time to witness the championship game, in which a game-altering headbutt would send 350-million spectators into a historic frenzy.
A devoted and comprehensive tour guide, Trecker delivers the goods with gusto.