Book review: Soccernomics: Why England Loses, Why Germany and Brazil Win, and Why the U.S., Japan, Australia, Turkey–and Even Iraq–Are Destined to Become the Kings of the World’s Most Popular Sport
Soccernomics: Why England Loses, Why Germany and Brazil Win, and Why the U.S., Japan, Australia, Turkey–and Even Iraq–Are Destined to Become the Kings of the World’s Most Popular Sport
by Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski
Published by Nation Books (October 27, 2009)
Buy it at: Amazon
The best trivia
- Costa Rica has the largest percentage of people who play soccer. It recorded 27% participation (Germany landed in second at 20%). A number of small island nations made the top twenty. Analysts speculate that small populations and pleasant climates lead to more active soccer fans.
- Iceland has the most active soccer fans. About 4.4% of Icelanders show up to cheer on a team in a stadium. Scotland can claim 3.9%, while Norway is just behind at 3.7%. Spain follows the pattern of other large nations, with a lower total of 1.9%.
- The United States, India, and Taiwan are the least enthusiastic about watching soccer on TV. Taiwan has the lowest ratings per TV set, possibly due to more interest in baseball.
Soccer gets freaky
Publishing mega-hits like 50 Shades of Grey and Freakonomics have inspired a lot of imitators. Fortunately, Soccernomics takes its inspiration from the latter and does a pretty good job of living up to its style, feel, and data.
Soccer fans will be happy geeking out over World Cup history and national teams analyzed with academic rigor. Though the revelations aren’t as mind-blowing as the original ones in Freakonomics, the book does bring out some great facts, considering the material. The world’s game also supplies them with a fair amount of data to work with.
Isolated chapters keep the book from having the sweep of a more narrative work like Moneyball, but the bite-sized theses are still worth reading.
What the book is
Freakonomics for soccer (with a very long subtitle).
What the book isn’t
Moneyball for soccer.