Book: Soccernomics | Author: Simon Kuper & Stefan Szymanski | Started: 5/2/14 | Finished: 5/11/14 | Rating: 4 stars
Synopsis: Why do England lose? Why does Scotland suck? Why doesn’t America dominate the sport internationally… and why do the Germans play with such an efficient but robotic style? These are questions every soccer aficionado has asked. Using insights and analogies from economics, statistics, psychology, and business to cast a new and entertaining light on how the light works.
My review: This was the best possible book to read before the World Cup because it focuses more on countries as national teams as a whole more than individual teams. There was a lot of information that helped me better understand the World Cup and soccer in general, which is why I took it slowly and tried to focus on everything it talked about.
The book separates itself into different parts with a few chapters in each part. Each chapter has a different reason why some countries do well at the World Cup and why some do not. Since I’m relatively new to soccer, it was fun reading about soccer from long before I paid attention. Since this book was written before 2010, so much has changed but it’s always good to know how it was before. For example, the book states that Spain does not win the World Cup often, which is true, but they ended up winning in 2010.
I think my favourite part of this book was talking about the future of soccer and what countries have the best chance at being the best country in the world. They find this information out based on population, income per capita, and experience. These three variables show up in the book frequently for a few different reasons. It’s interesting to see which countries are overperforming or underperforming based on these variables. And yes we do get to see this, including charts!
I think the most informative chapter for me, was “football versus football” which is football versus soccer. It talks about why football is a huge sport in America but soccer is not and why soccer is huge everywhere else but football hasn’t picked up. Since I live in America, this was the most interesting chapter to me. Kuper and Szymanski make many analogies with football and baseball which made it easier for me to understand things.
I’ll probably be returning to this book for information during the World Cup to see if what they said about countries holds up in 2014. I recommend this book to any soccer fans because it’s a worthwhile book. I would just say to take your time reading it because there is a lot of information and it can get confused if you’re speed reading. This book did make me even more excited for the World Cup and future World Cups. I am excited to see if what their research found is true.