The FIFA World Cup 2018 has started and football fever is running high. For many, football has always been more than a sport- it’s a culture, a way of life almost. The 90 minutes of pure adrenalin, where anything can happen, give hope and joy to some, while pain and despair to others. In India too, football is becoming increasingly popular and many are turning to books to fuel their enthusiasm for the game. Here are 10 books to read before the 2018 FIFA World Cup to understand the game better.

01

Barefoot to Boots: The Many Lives of Indian Football

Novy Kapadia

Do you know why India was once called the ‘Brazil of Asia’? Or why the rivalry between East Bengal and Mohun Bagan was ranked among the top football club rivalries of the world? This book talks about all of it and much more: the history of Indian football, its ups and downs, its revival, and its hope for future tournaments. Novy Kapadia uses stories of memorable matches and his conversations with legendary players to reveal the glorious days of Indian football. Barefoot To Boots is dedicated to Indian football and will help you understand the intricacies of football in India.

Buy it here.

02

The Numbers Game: Why Everything You Know About Soccer Is Wrong

Chris Anderson & David Sally

The Numbers Game debunks many football myths that fans believe are true, such as, that a corner kick into the goal mouth increase the probability of scoring, possession determines the outcome of the game, and that all goals have the same value. In this book, Chris Anderson, professional goalkeeper turned soccer statistics guru, and David Sally, behaviour analyst, provide a revolutionary way to understand the dynamics and statistics of the game. They tell you what you need to know to predict the outcome of a game, how valuable a corner is, which is the most important goal in the game, how a player is valued, and so on. After reading this book, you’ll have a completely new way of watching, predicting and analysing the game. This knowledge will be particularly handy for the FIFA World Cup 2018.

Buy it here.

03

The Ball Is Round: A Global History Of Football

David Goldblatt

Considered ‘the definitive book about soccer’, The Ball Is Round tells the story of soccer from its origin as a chaotic folk ritual to its emergence as the most popular sport on the planet. It talks about how soccer has played an important role in shaping the political and social history of the modern world. It contains a series of chapters describing Latin American soccer and how politics and dictatorship are intertwined with tactics and wing-play. The book also discusses the impact of football on many countries including Saudi Arabia, Ireland, and India. Pick up The Ball Is Round if you want to delve into the massive history of soccer.

Buy it here.

04

Soccernomics

Simon Kuper & Stefan Szymanski

Soccernomics answers soccer aficionados’ most intriguing questions: why Scotland isn’t good at football; why America doesn’t dominate this sport and why they call it soccer unlike the rest of the world which calls it football; why the Germans play in a robotic style; and why England keeps losing. The book uses insights from statistics, economics, business, and psychology to shed light on the actual working of the game and reveals surprising truths about soccer. Soccernomics is a fun and entertaining way to learn everything about the economics of soccer. Heads up, the 2018 World Cup Edition is also available.

Buy it here | 2018 World Cup Edition

05

The World Is A Ball: The Joy, Madness And Meaning Of Soccer

John Doyle

In The World Is A Ball, John Doyle talks about the evolution of soccer, as a global phenomenon, from the 1960s to the 21st century, with a particular focus on the World Cups and the European Championships between 2002 and 2010. Doyle examines soccer in a new light- as a game of possibilities, where the colonised nations could win over their colonisers, and the oppressed immigrants can defeat their hosts. The World Is A Ball is a compelling and captivating social history of the beautiful game that became bigger than any other sport.

Buy it here.

06

How Soccer Explains The World: An Unlikely Theory Of Globalisation

Franklin Foer

In his book How Soccer Explains The World, Foer has used soccer to explain everything from nationalism and globalisation to the rise of Islamic democracy and fall of Yugoslavia. The book examines soccer in different countries and tells us how the game affects its citizens. For example, in Iran, thousands of women forced the police to let them enter the men’s only stadium to support their country’s team during an international match, and, in Scotland, the management of some teams use religious hatred to sell tickets. How Soccer Explains The World is a remarkable and insightful report on the surprising impact of soccer on the world.

Buy it here.

07

Fever Pitch

Nick Hornby

Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch is part memoir and part analysis of his sheer love for and obsession with football. It is one of the best depictions of sport’s fandom. In this book, Hornby explains why football is not just a game for people but almost a religion. For him, time is not measured by years but by seasons, and days are not scheduled around work but around the Gunners’ fixtures list. He talks about what it’s like losing a season and how, in such moments of sadness, cheering for his favourite team in the next game is the best medicine available. If you are a fan of any team, you’ll surely relate to Hornby in Fever Pitch.

Buy it here.

08

The Fix: Soccer And Organized Crime

Declan Hill

The Fix portrays the dark side of soccer and its connection with organised crime. Declan Hill risked his life to interview the mobsters and the middlemen who controlled the game. Hill covered the Asia Cup, Euro Cup and the World Cup (especially the 2006 World Cup) to unearth stories of corruption and illegal activities. Each chapter tells a new story that keeps readers hooked. Some of the stories can even leave you sick to the stomach when you learn about how money, sex, and violence were used to change the outcomes of the matches. After reading this book, you may choose to ignore the hidden truth behind football, but you may no longer be able to claim ignorance.

Buy it here.

09

Inverting The Pyramid: The History Of Football Tactics

Jonathan Wilson

Inverting The Pyramid talks about the step-by-step evolution of game tactics and takes a closer look at the lives of the great thinkers and players who have shaped the game and its tactics. The book explains why managers put certain tactics into play, and how and why those tactics do or don’t work. It also provides us with technical explanations of certain handpicked matches as well as their team set-ups, giving us a completely new understanding of the matches. If you have ever wondered why the manager of a team has taken a particular decision, this book might answer your questions.

Buy it here.

10

The Damned Utd

David Peace

This fact-based ficitional book gives us a glimpse into what goes on beyond the football field. It is the story of Brian Clough, a football manager who took over England’s most successful yet most criticised team, Leeds United from his bitter rival Don Revie. The book covers Clough’s rise to glory, his demons, and his obsession with football. It explores a unique angle through which one can learn about football through a gripping tale of fear, failure, anger, and success.

Buy it here.

Have you read any of these football books? Which team are your supporting for the 2018 World Cup? Share with us in the comments.

Ankit Mahawar

Ankit Mahawar

Ankit loves stories, be it in any form- print, media or theatre. After reading Angels and Demons, he fell in love with books, especially suspense, thriller, and fantasy. He is a big fan of Harry Potter series. He quit his engineering career to become a writer and currently works with The Curious Reader. Apart from writing he also loves filmmaking, photography, traveling and cooking. You can reach him on Instagram.