Simon Kuper is a columnist for the Financial Times. His books include Ajax, the Dutch, the War: The Strange Tale of Soccer During Europe’s Darkest Hour and Soccer Against the Enemy: How the World’s Most Popular Sport Starts and Fuels Revolutions and Keeps Dictators in Power. (September 2017)
The Fall of the House of FIFA: The Multimillion-Dollar Corruption at the Heart of Global Soccer
by David Conn
FIFA remains largely unreformed, and Western countries seem powerless to force change. David Conn’s new book shows that the saga of world soccer’s governing body since the 1970s has foreshadowed geopolitical shifts, notably the waning of the political and economic dominance of the West.
When friends hear that I’m at the World Cup, they often say how envious they are. They don’t need to be. I watch games squeezed in among other chubby, middle-aged British journalists in the press stand, eating my dinner of peanuts from the stadium vending machine. I rarely care who wins. Nor, usually, do most of the spectators. The crowd at most games consists chiefly of neutral Russians, who fill the duller stretches with chants of “Rossiya,” along with fans whose countries have already been knocked out but who weren’t ready to go home yet. But the emotional locus of this tournament is more in living rooms and bars around the world than here in the place where the thing is actually happening.