Can Soccer Explain the World?

Travel Blog  •  Jim Benning  •  07.07.04 | 9:15 PM ET

Writer Franklin Foer thinks so. His new book, aptly titled “How Soccer Explains the World,” views culture, politics and human needs through the prism of the international sport. It’s a lovely idea—that by looking at a single sport we can find a way to understand globalization, geopolitics and a host of other complex issues. Whether Foer pulls off the feat is open to debate. Reviews have been mixed. Either way, the author makes some fascinating observations in an interview in the Atlantic Online by Frank Bures, a frequent World Hum contributor. Among them, Foer discusses a key difference between American sports teams and soccer teams around the world, noting that American franchises represent broad regions that cross many demographic lines. “But soccer clubs represent communities or neighborhoods,” he says. “And when you’re representing a neighborhood, you’re representing a very specific segment of the population. Soccer clubs become proxies for ethnicity, class, religion, or social caste. That makes them inherently more political. So soccer matches usually signify a clash of religions, classes, and castes. To me, that’s what makes the game so thrilling to watch. There’s always some elevated stake to the game.”

1 Comment for Can Soccer Explain the World?

soccer live 07.08.08 | 7:11 PM ET

Soccer is one of few passtimes that crosses international boundaries.

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