The Global Game


The Global Game

Writers on Soccer

Edited by John Turnbull, Thom Satterlee, and Alon Raab

316 pages


November 2008


$21.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

Includes "The Empty Pleasure" by 2010 Nobel Prize in Literature Winner Mario Vargas Llosa

The world’s most popular sport, soccer, is also one of the planet’s prevalent cultural expressions, celebrated and debated as an art form, observed with ritual and passion. Thus it has inspired literary efforts of every sort, from every corner of the globe, by women and men. The writings gathered in this volume reflect the universal and infinitely varied ways in which soccer connects with human experience. Poetry and prose from Ted Hughes, Charles Simic, Eduardo Galeano, Günter Grass, Giovanna Pollarolo, Mario Vargas Llosa, and Elvis Costello—to name but a few—take us to a dizzying array of cultures and climes. From a patch of ground in Missoula, Montana, to a clearing in a Kosovo forest, from the stadiums of Burma and Iran to the northern lights over Greenland to remotest Sierra Leone, these writers show us soccer’s stars and fans, politics and rituals, as well as the game’s power to encourage resistance, inspire faith, and build community.

Author Bio

John Turnbull is a freelance writer on soccer and an editorial consultant. He maintains, a soccer Web site with an accent on women’s soccer, media, and culture. Translator and author Thom Satterlee is associate professor of English at Taylor University. Alon Raab is a lecturer in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of California, Davis, and the author of articles, reviews, and interviews.
Contributors: Rafael Alberti, Eduard Bass, Nalinaksha Bhattacharya, Hebe de Bonafini, Lawrence Cann, Bridget Carson, Hernán Casciari, Elvis Costello, Edilberto Coutinho, Erik Eggers, Friedrich Christian Delius, György Dragomán, Philippe Dubath, Álvaro Enrigue, Eduardo Galeano, Günter Grass, Einar Már Guðmundsson, William Heyen, Miroslav Holub, Ted Hughes, Ian Jack, Elísabet Jökulsdóttir, Ephraim Kishon, Simon Kuper, Anatoly Kuznetsov, Driton Latifi, Donna J. Gelagotis Lee, Mario Vargas Llosa, Subcomandante Marcos, Javier Marías, Andrew Marshall, Stanley Matthews, Christopher Merrill, Mássimo Moratti, Lady Murasaki, Mark Nuttall, Giovanna Pollarolo, Julio Ramón Ribeyro, Paul Richards, Klaus Rifbjerg, Nelson Rodrigues, María Graciela Rodríguez, Umberto Saba, Matilde Sánchez, Thom Satterlee, Rogelio Ramos Signes, Charles Simic, Antonio Skármeta, Osvaldo Soriano, David Starkey, Gay Talese, Crispin Thomas, Bea Vidacs, Luiz Vilela, Sarah Wardle, Ch’ao Yueh-chih, and Uroš Zupan.


"As much social commentary as a compendium of soccer tales and soccer reflections, this delightful collection is essential reading for the soccer fan and those interested in soccer and sport generally in a global environment. . . . Bringing a variety of writings together in one volume is a credit to the editors, who provide an excellent introduction for each entry."—Library Journal

"The first truly global survey of writing on the global game. . . . The collection gives a powerful reminder to Anglo-Saxon literary cultures that football—the most global cultural phenomenon of all—has a rich, multivocal literary tradition."—David Goldblatt, Times Literary Supplement

"It is worth every minute of your time to read this collection. You will never see, or experience football (soccer) the same way again."—Marc Jolley, Sports Literature Association

"I admit a bias. I’m a soccer fan. If you are, too, this is the book for you. And if you aren’t, and you give The Global Game a chance, the light may yet shine upon you."—Bill Littlefield, Only A Game

"Those who like or study soccer, and would like to read different perspectives about it, will find much to savor."—Russell Eisenman, MultiCultural Review

"From locations that span the stadiums of Burma and Iran to the northern lights over Greenland to the remotest areas of Sierra Leone, the writers celebrate the players, fans, rituals, and politics of the world's most popular sport."—Duke Magazine

"This anthology's successful use of essays, memoirs, and poetry demonstrates the varied language of soccer."—Gabe Logan, Journal of Sport History

Table of Contents



Note to Readers  

Part 1. Space


1. The Orb 

      Klaus Rifbjerg

2. The Origins   

      Eduardo Galeano

3. Hem and Football    

      Nalinaksha Bhattacharya

4. The Daily Life of Cameroonian Football

      Bea Vidacs

5. The Soccer Moms--1996     

      David Starkey

6. Atiguibas     

      Julio Ramón Ribeyro

7. Why Eleven of All Numbers? Football between Carnival and Freemasonry

      Erik Eggers

8. Klapzuba's Eleven   

      Eduard Bass

9. Holland, a Country of Clubs     

      Simon Kuper

10. Readymade

      Álvaro Enrigue

11. Soccer Fields, Fort Missoula   

      Bridget Carson

12. "Get Him a Body Bag!" (A Brief, Enthusiastic Account)  

      María Graciela Rodríguez

Part 2. Improvisation


13. Young Shoots

      Lady Murasaki

14. A Boy Juggling a Soccer Ball   

      Christopher Merrill

15. Fallen from the Sky

      Javier Marías

16. Combing Over History     

      Stanley Matthews

17. Encomiastic Arts of Our National Gamesmen  

      Antonio Skármeta

18. The Longest Penalty Ever 

      Osvaldo Soriano

19. Fretting While the Scarlet Tide Make History     

      Elvis Costello

20. Streaker Disrupts Iceland vs. Albania

      Einar Már Gu<d'>mundsson

21. Football at Slack

      Ted Hughes

22. Dead Radio   

      Charles Simic

23. Fahrenheit 1976     

      Rogelio Ramos Signes

Part 3. Challenge


24. Dreaming of Sunday Afternoons  

      Giovanna Pollarolo

25. A Fine Fla-Flu     

      Nelson Rodrigues

26. Escaping with the Ball   

      Luiz Vilela

27. Generals and Fools 

      Andrew Marshall

28. 1974   

      Günter Grass

29. End of the World   

      György Dragomán

30. Not So Much a Religion, More a Way of Life 

      Ian Jack

31. Kimmel Springs vs. Metula

      Ephraim Kishon

32. For the Sake of My Right and Not Football  


33. Let the Games Begin

      Subcomandante Marcos and Mássimo Moratti

Part 4. Loss


34. On a Painting of Playing Football    

      Ch'ao Yueh-chih

35. Beauty Is Nothing but the Beginning of a Terror We Can Hardly Bear  000

      Uro<s^> Zupan

36. Playing Football in Secret     

      Driton Latifi

37. Why Does My Wife Love Peter Crouch?  

      Thom Satterlee

38. The Dynamo Team: Legend and Fact     

      Anatoly Kuznetsov

39. Boycotting the World Cup 

      Hebe de Bonafini and Matilde Sánchez

40. Football in Athens, with Her   

      Donna J. Gelagotis Lee

41. Sierra Leone, Social Learning, and Soccer  

      Paul Richards

42. Parity 

      William Heyen

43. Penalty Phase

      Gay Talese

44. Platko (Santander, May 20, 1928)     

      Rafael Alberti

Part 5. Belief


45. The Lord's Prayer, Recast

      Edilberto Coutinho

46. Communicate, Lads  

      Elísabet Jökulsdóttir

47. Five Poems for the Game of Soccer    

      Umberto Saba

48. Living to Tell a Tale (Letter to Diego)    

      Hernán Casciari

49. The Empty Pleasure 

      Mario Vargas Llosa

50. Match  

      Sarah Wardle

51. Zidane and Me

      Philippe Dubath

52. The Sunday I Became World Champion   

      Friedrich Christian Delius

53. Art Works Football Club  

      Lawrence Cann

54. Football Is  

      Crispin Thomas

55. Arsarnerit: Inuit and the Heavenly Game of Football    

      Mark Nuttall

56. On the Origin of Football

      Miroslav Holub

Source Acknowledgments 

Further Reading  

Also of Interest