As the World Cup in Soccer is all set to be inaugurated in Doha, Qatar, there is an anticipation of a month-long festivity filled with action, excitement, disappointment and surprise.
The world cup was first played in 1930 in Uruguay, with 13 teams from Europe and the Americas. The final was played between Uruguay and Argentina and was won by the former. The first televised matches were broadcast in 1954 when the games were held in Switzerland.
Today, more than a billion people are said to watch the matches worldwide.
Such trivia is the stuff of soccer enthusiasts. But if this is not enough information, there is a whole industry of publishing that is dedicated to the complex world of football that one can delve into.
Books on soccer focus on a variety of areas like celebrity players, changes in strategy over the years and even the use of big data. In short, there is something for every kind of soccer nerd.
Giving more detailed trivia like why there were no red cards in the 1978 games in Argentina, is Richard Forster’s ‘World Cup Nuggets’. The book is updated to cover the present season as well.
Big data analysis and the rise of Artificial Intelligence has ensured that every minute move of a player or a team is analysed by them, or the opposition, making the game more a science than an art. This has changed the game “from beauty to duty,” according to Uruguayan writer, Eduardo Galeano in his book ‘Football: In Sun and Shadow’.
Jonathan Wilson’s “Inverting the Pyramid’ is a quick guide to soccer history, marking its evolution through to the tactical changes which have been implemented over the years.
‘Net Gains’ by Rory Smith addresses the phenomenon of big data and how it has been used by soccer strategists to bring some order to an unpredictable game.
Ibrahim Mustapha’s ‘No Longer Naïve: African’s football’s growing impact in the world cup’ is a fascinating look at the way in which the game came centre stage in Africa in 2010, but the book also asks whether any African nation could take the coveted cup soon.
This world cup is being touted as possibly the last time when legends Messi and Ronaldo will share space, perhaps facing each other. For a celebrity studded work on these two soccer legends, Joshua Robinson and Jonathan Clegg’s ‘Messi vs Ronaldo: One rivalry two GOATS’ is a must read. The book explores the cultural contexts which gave rise to these two phenomenal powers of their generation.
For more contemporary and latest work on the World Cup, there is Shane Stay’s ‘The World Cup 2022 book: Everything you need to know about the Soccer World Cup’. This has details on all the teams, their legacy, strategies and possible tactics.
Soccer is often dubbed as the ‘beautiful game’. Just in case there is a lull between matches, there is enough to stay occupied in the form of a variety of readings to keep the soccer season exciting.