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Soccernomics: Why England Loses, Why Germany and Brazil Win, and Why the U.S., Japan, Australia, Turkey--And Even Iraq--Are Destined [ SOCCERNOMICS: WHY ENGLAND LOSES, WHY GERMANY AND BRAZIL WIN, AND WHY THE U.S., JAPAN, AUSTRALIA, TURKEY--AND EVEN IRAQ--ARE DESTINED ] by Kuper, Simon (Author) Oct-01-2009 [ Paperback ] (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 1. Oktober 2009
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Why do England lose? Why does Scotland suck? Why doesnt America dominate the sport internationally...and why do the Germans play with such an efficient but robotic style? These are questions every soccer aficionado has asked. Soccernomics answers them. Using insights and analogies from economics, statistics, psychology, and business to cast a new and entertaining light on how the game works, Soccernomics reveals the often surprisingly counterintuitive truths about soccer. An essential guide for the 2010 World Cup, Soccernomics is a new way of looking at the worlds most popular game.
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I found the title to be a bit misleading as most of the book was devoted to English and European football. The question posed "why the U.S, Japan, Australia, Turkey and even Iraq are destined to become the kings" received only a token section comparatively and didn't give any insights into why these countries will be more dominant other than on economic grounds.
However as an Australian fan where the premier league has always been shown extensively(more so than the local leagues) it is understandable that this league and European football as a whole was used due to its more reliable statistics.
Most of the statistics and facts were well verified and were explained in a rational way without emotional bias. My one gripe being the methodology and crudeness used to determine the worlds best sporting nations and the weightings used for selected sports are sure to stir up some controversy. For instance Karate and Chess are rated as world sports given equal ratings to the likes of basketball, tennis and cricket. Without doubt as expected the U.S.A was rated the overall sporting champion in my opinion the lead should have been more considering NFL was not used, and its large numbers of competitors in most major sports.
However the best nation on a per capita rating was shown tob clearly a certain scandinavian nation based solely on its performance in winter olympics (given too high a rating for an elitist sport) and womens soccer without any remote contribution from any other major sport. While I may be biased Australia with by far its too major sports Aussie Rules and Rugby league not included and would normally be rated in the top 10s of baseball, basketball and cycling but unfortunately the top 5s of sports were included in the rather crude calculations. Australia does remarkably well in soccer considering at best its the fifth most popular sport in the country. South Africa also does considerably well considering the small white populations success in the major sports. Perhaps climate could have been considered or maybe one for another book.
Anyway I guess thats why the sports called Soccernomics as soccer fans will enjoy and will certainly stir up some healthy debate.
That being said, I really enjoyed this book taken at face value: a different way of looking at the game of soccer. You don't need to have an extensive background in the game to pick up this book (I am a burgeoning American soccer fan, go ahead and hate away), but you'll enjoy it if you've been a fan for life as well. Soccernomics throws out all of the usual stereotypes and truths and takes a look at what is really going on in soccer, whether player and coaching dynamics, World Cup economics, the fairness of the penalty kick, what countries succeed at sports and why, and more.
If you're a fan of soccer and/or simply enjoy game theory and understanding something deeper about the game, you'll find a lot here for you. I read it last summer and it greatly enhanced my World Cup experience and has further enhanced my following the US team, the Premier League, and more this year. I consistently find myself watching a game or reading an article and something from Soccernomics pops into my head to ponder. Pick it up and give it a shot, and just let the book be what it is, and you'll enjoy it.
The authors even stated that the data they found was not reliable and often lacking, yet did they still use it? I don't even know. Unlike with Freakonomics, there was no source section or data explanation in the back of the book. The only thing that was included was a selected bibliography.
Overall, I agree with the main argument of the book: that as soccer (like most industries) becomes more globalized, new non-European/Brazilian leaders will emerge. However, I would take most of the other arguments with a grain of salt.
It's somewhat of a Moneyball for soccer.
The book presents some interesting theories based on statistical analysis rather than conjecture; but what really makes it a good read is the stories it relates in examining these statistics.
A great read for soccer lovers, sports theorists, and mathematicians.
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