The World is a Ball: The Joy, Madness, and Meaning of Soccer

In this picaresque, Pete-McCarthy-meets-Nick-Hornby travelogue, John Doyle explores the world of soccer — from the small club games to the unifying force of the World Cup

Journalist, social anthropologist, memoirist, and soccer fanatic John Doyle turns his eye to the most popular sport on the planet: soccer — the beautiful game. As John says, “Soccer is a simple game, made complicated by tactics on and off the field.”

The action moves from the first game John saw, with the Longford Town club, in 1960s-era Ireland, through soccer in the 21st century — the World Cups in 2002 and 2006, the European Championships in 2004 and 2008 and concludes with a detailed chronicle of the key games on the road to World Cup 2010. From Italy to Ireland and from Buenos Aires to Bratislava he has travelled to write cogent, humorous analysis of the great and the lowly teams who will play in South Africa in the world’s biggest sporting event.

At the core of the book rests eyewitness and eye-popping accounts of the big soccer tournaments in this century. From the dazzled, drunken fans, the crazed taxi drivers, to the fans dressed as leprechauns or in lederhosen, Doyle muses on the evolution of soccer as a global phenomenon. From the petty nationalism and cultural wars of small-club soccer to the power of the World Cup to unify people from around the globe, The World Is A Ball examines soccer from a different angle. Soccer as religion, crossing the boundaries of geography and faith. Soccer as pagan ritual. More than just a travelogue or one fan’s diary, John Doyle’s latest offers a compelling analysis of the ultimate sport, and how it has kept pace as the global village has sprung up around it.

THE WORLD IS A BALL – Table of Contents

Meaning: All the Rambling Boys of Pleasure
Part One
Joy: The Long Ball from Longford to Ibaraki
1: The First Kiss
2: It’s Only a Game
3: You’ll Never Beat the Irish
Part Two
Madness: Soccer in the Twenty-First Century
1: World Cup Korea, Japan 2002
2: Euro 2004, Portugal
3: World Cup Germany 2006
4: Euro 2008 Austria, Switzerland
Part Three
The Road to World Cup 2010
1: Home
2: Away

Added Time: John Doyle’s Guide to World Cup 2010/World Cup 2010 Schedule