Last weekend, on a whim, I picked up a book with the rather interesting title How Soccer Explains The World. After finishing the book in one day, I’m starting to grow in my appreciation for the Beautiful Game. I’ve always liked football (soccer to North Americans), but found a lot of the competitions and leagues and teams confusing. I’ve preferred to follow the World Cup every four years. But I must admit I find the fact that the game is played in almost every corner of the earth completely fascinating. And the book, by journalist Franklin Foer, uses all the controversies of the game (racism, fascism, corruption) as well as its transcendent joy to talk about wider issues of globalization and nationalism.

So, since the weekend, I’ve picked up the latest issue of World Soccer magazine, added a dozen or so websites to my bookmarks, and ordered a heap of books to help explain this World Cup world to me. I’m also about halfway through Nick Hornby’s love letter to Arsenal, Fever Pitch, which I’ve owned for several years but not yet read.

I’m actually not that fond of the English Premiership teams, so my newfound enthusiasm will have only limited value when conversing with my Manchester-mad father-in-law, but it’s a beginning. After reading Foer’s book, and remembering my own time in the city, I think my new love is FC Barcelona.

Can’t wait for the World Cup next year. Check out their comprehensive web site.

P.S. One of the more interesting sites I’ve come across is for the Mondiali Antirazzisti (the Antiracist World Cup), which is a tournament of 192 amateur teams (men, women, and mixed) from all over the world that is played in Montecchio, Italy. It began yesterday. What an amazing event.