Time to get the ball rolling
Copa mundial. Coupe du monde. Weltmeisterschaft. It goes by many names, and yet for a few weeks in summer it has the same effect in every part of the world: Ordinary individuals become face-painting fanatics. Entire nations cheer or groan at the spin of a ball. Heroes are born and great triumphs achieved. Every four years, the FIFA World Cup brings together the best soccer teams from around the globe for a month-long tournament and celebration of the world’s game.
This year, 12 cities in Brazil will play host to the World Cup from June 12 - July 13. You can find the entire schedule on FIFA’s website, which will also cover all of the games and post articles on competing countries. Not only will soccer enthrall fans all over the world for the duration of the tournament, it will also affect areas far from the stadiums. According to the Brazilian business journal Valor (Portuguese), 73 percent of Brazilian employers will be adjusting their companies’ schedules so that employees can follow matches. Thirty-nine percent will even allow their workers to watch games while at work. It can be hard to understand how a simple game wields that kind of influence. In Why Soccer Matters, legendary player and ambassador Pelé takes a look at the lasting global fascination with the sport, and offers a glimpse into its past and future. He also examines how soccer can help shape the cultural identity of a nation, including his home of Brazil.
The host nation has won the World Cup a record five times, and they’ll be aiming to add another trophy this summer. The American national team, on the other hand, are looking to claim the title for the first time. Not that they haven’t tried before. Chasing the Game details the quest of the U.S. Men’s national team for a World Cup, including a run to the quarter-finals in 2002. To find out who their primary competition are this time around, take a look at the BBC Sport Group Guides. Covering all eight of the initial groups, the articles detail strengths and weaknesses of each competing national team, as well as which players are likely to be in their starting line-ups.
With all the stars on the field this summer, it’s important not to forget about the stars of the future. Kids who are dreaming of someday scoring goals like Messi or Mia Hamm will find plenty to fuel their dreams on the Anythink shelves. Good places to get the ball rolling are the series The Kicks, written by U.S. Women’s national team forward Alex Morgan, and the Spanish-language Gol series by Luigi Garlando. Parents who want to give their budding strikers a leg up can check out some of the resources on coaching soccer, while those who’ve been dragged into the game kicking and screaming might enjoy the tale of a Scottish coach who finds himself at odds with the culture of American youth soccer.
Not only do kids grow through playing soccer, soccer itself has grown considerably since its creation. British sports journalist Jonathan Wilson takes a look at tactical developments during the history of soccer in Inverting the Pyramid. Starting with the early beginnings in Victorian era England, this book is a journey moving from one innovator to the next, with a constant eye for the global evolution of the sport. Of course, soccer isn’t just a game of formations, strategies and statistics. Uruguayan author Eduardo Galeano has an eye for the more poetic side of the jogo bonito, or the "beautiful game." His sketches, short stories and anecdotes are collected in Soccer in Sun and Shadow. Readers will get a feel for the thrill, the pain, and the joy that soccer brings to fans around the world. If you’re not careful, you might find yourself among the crowd cheering your head off this summer. And that leaves only one question: which country will have you shouting “GOOOOOOOOOOOOL”?