ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, HarperCollins, 10 East 53rd St., 7th Fl., New York, NY 10022.
CAREER: Journalist. New Republic, Washington, DC, senior editor; New York (magazine), New York, NY, editor.
How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2004.
SIDELIGHTS: Franklin Foer spent six months touring the soccer capitals of the world while considering the sport's place in and representation of globalization. As he argues in How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization: "more than basketball or even the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, soccer is the most globalized institution on the planet." Benjamin Wallace-Wells commented in the Washington Monthly that Foer "seems less interested in documenting something new than in using soccer as an organizing concept, a diagnostic lens for assessing the state of the world's lumpenproletariat…. Soccer, with its national teams and the furied local passion that fire the supporters of its professional sides, has always been a tool of the sort of vain tribalisms liberals have long wished gone from the earth, and had hoped that globalization would banish."
Newsweek International writer Malcolm Beith said that Foer's other stories "are less chilling but just as bleak. As the author addresses the economic effects of globalization on football culture, we read of Nigerian stars playing through miserable Ukrainian winters and anti-Semitic Chelsea supporters coming to grips with their new Russian-Jewish owner." Investors have left Brazil because of corruption, while in the United States, the sport of the world's working class is followed primarily by immigrants from Latin American countries. Soccer moms are satirized but also politically courted, while reactionaries suggest that soccer is fundamentally un-American. Foer writes of the actions of thousands of Iranian women who demanded entry into the men's-only stadium to in order to watch their national team play in an international match.
When he comments on the hatred and racism that is displayed, Foer also notes what conditions favor such manifestations. In Scotland, for example, hatred based on religion is encouraged in order to sell tickets and merchandise. Most of all, Foer writes glowingly of Barcelona, Spain, which he views as an open and welcoming culture. A Kirkus Reviews contributor wrote that, "though the globalism thread sometimes disappears, the author is unfailingly interesting," making How Soccer Explains the World "Lively and provocative—even for those who just don't get what FIFA is all about." A Publishers Weekly reviewer concluded by saying that "one doesn't have to be a soccer fan to truly appreciate this absorbing book."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, June 1, 2004, Kier Graff, review of How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization, p. 1675.
Houston Chronicle, July 16, 2004, Jay R. Mandle, review of How Soccer Explains the World.
Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2004, review of How Soccer Explains the World, p. 374.
Library Journal, August, 2004, Scott H. Silverman, review of How Soccer Explains the World, p. 104.
Mother Jones, July-August, 2004, Michael Agger, review of How Soccer Explains the World, p. 85.
Newsweek International, July 12, 2004, Malcolm Beith, review of How Soccer Explains the World, p. 57.
Publishers Weekly, May 10, 2004, review of How Soccer Explains the World, p. 46.
U.S. News & World Report, August 9, 2004, Justin Ewers, review of How Soccer Explains the World, p. 58.
Washington Monthly, July-August, 2004, Benjamin Wallace-Wells, review of How Soccer Explains the World, p. 54.