Saturday, 3 November 2007

The Beautiful Game

During a holiday to South America last year I managed to fit in three matches of football and a visit to La Bombonera much to the chagrin of my football-suffering girlfriend. Since then I have had an obsession for the South American game, closely following the fortunes of my two favourite Latin American teams, Union Espanola and Boca Juniors. So when I was reading through Hamish's library and saw The Beautiful Game: A Journey Through Latin American Football by Chris Taylor, I had to do my best to get myself a copy as it looked like a must read.

Anyone looking to read this book must have the understanding that this book is almost ten years old, being published in 1998 around the time of that year's World Cup. Therefore some of the information is a little dated but it still a decent read. For me, I was a little disappointed that there wasn't a chapter dedicated to Chilean football, who at the time of writing of the book would have been qualifying for their first World Cup in twenty four years and whose National Stadium is a subject of much controversy. They are also home to Colo Colo, one of the giants of the South American club game. This disappointment aside, I particularly enjoyed the chapters on football in Uruguay, Nicaragua and Mexico and was astounded at the extent of corruption that existed in the Colombian game. For me, the chapters on Brazilian and Argentinian football although providing a good history of the beginnings of the game left me a little disappointed.

Overall a well-written book and is a good starting point for those who have little knowledge of the Latin American game but for anyone who is looking for a more up to date history may have to look elsewhere. For those looking for more book reviews, check out Gramsci's Kingdom which also has some great writing. I myself will be taking a short break from reading books about football as I need to read some fiction, although I will be passing my eye over the National Football Development Plan that came out earlier this week and for a review of this document, have a look out at The Football Tragic.


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