Futbol, Futebol and Soccer
Evidently we're branching out here at Soccernet, as a collection of essays on South American football gets our attention.
Indeed, the volume contains 15 works by various writers on the topics of politics, business, culture and society, all linked in to the overriding theme of South American football.
The region has a strong connection, and some may say a spiritual one, to the sport. But the picture painted by the writers is one that captures the reality of the current situation.
From the best players leaving to pursue a career in Europe, to the problems of fan violence, poor business management and declining crowds; each topic is dealt with (albeit in a somewhat lengthy and scholastic manner) and there is little missed.
A slight criticism would be that despite its claim to be about 'The Americas', really only Argentina and Brazil are dealt with in any depth. Granted there is very little available information on the region's football, but certainly it would have been informative to have more on US soccer and Central America.
Still, Futbol, Futebol, Soccer deals with many issues, including globalisation and the watching of football as a strengthening of national identity. By far the most interesting, in this reviewer's eyes anyway, is the politics of supporting Mexican side Pumas and seeing how supporters in Peru will organise violent clashes in order to protect their clubs' traditions. This will certainly open your eyes if you're only used to watching English football.
The fact that the contributors seem to know their subject matter does a lot for the credibility of the book, but they'll certainly lose readers in the way their arguments are presented. While you can dip into the various chapters, remember that it is written as a valuable academic text for research and should be treated as such.
That said, of course, football fans may still find themselves interested in finding more out about the global game, but be warned: if you can't stomach a book without pictures and are not prepared to knuckle down and really read the text, you might be better off buying an autobiography instead.