Eight World Cups: My Journey through the Beauty and Dark Side of Soccer

by George Vecsey

Henry Holt and Co. | May 13, 2014 | Hardcover

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On the eve of the 2014 World Cup, New York Times sports columnist George Vecsey offers a personal perspective on the beautiful game

Blending witty travelogue with action on the field-and shady dealings in back rooms-George Vecsey offers an eye-opening, globe-trotting account of the last eight World Cups. He immerses himself in the great national leagues, historic clubs, and devoted fans and provides his up-close impressions of charismatic stars like Sócrates, Maradona, Baggio, and Zidane, while also chronicling the rise of the U.S. men's and women's teams.

Vecsey shows how each host nation has made the World Cup its own, from the all-night street parties in Spain in 1982 to the roar of vuvuzelas in South Africa in 2010, as the game in the stadium is backed up by the game in the street. But the joy is sometimes undermined by those who style themselves the game's protectors.

With his characteristic sharp reporting and eye for detail, Vecsey brings this global event to vivid life and has written a perfect companion for the upcoming 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 304 pages, 9.5 × 6.39 × 1.11 in

Published: May 13, 2014

Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0805098488

ISBN - 13: 9780805098488

Found in: Sports and Fitness

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– More About This Product –

Eight World Cups: My Journey through the Beauty and Dark Side of Soccer

Eight World Cups: My Journey through the Beauty and Dark Side of Soccer

by George Vecsey

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 304 pages, 9.5 × 6.39 × 1.11 in

Published: May 13, 2014

Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0805098488

ISBN - 13: 9780805098488

Read from the Book

•••• 1 ••••The Goal That Changes EverythingPretoria, South Africa, 2010The Americans were minutes from humiliation.The long plastic horns of South Africa were blaring like klaxons of doom.Landon Donovan and his teammates had been working for four years toward this day, but now they chased the ball around the field in a scoreless draw, needing a victory to stay alive. A good bit of the world was rooting for gallant Algeria to eliminate the United States.Many World Cup matches end this way, with one team trying to kill the final seconds in a distant corner, with the other side as desperate as its fans back home.In Italy in 1966, angry fans flocked to the Rome airport and threw eggs and tomatoes when the Azzurri landed after being eliminated—by North Korea. Che peccato. What a sin. In 2010, Americans were not yet at the stage of heaving produce at their lads but, still, expectations had been raised all over the States as a younger generation had become consumers—experts, in their own minds, about the world’s sport.Soccer was having something of a boom in the United States, helped by networks like ESPN, Fox, and Univision. In New York and many other places around the country, signboards were popping up in front of pubs and restaurants, proclaiming: REAL v. BARÇA, 2 PM. American players were going to Europe for the money and the experience. Rich Americans were buying European clubs.People back home cared now—maybe not to the point of shooting out the TV or jumping off a bridge (w
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Table of Contents

1. The Goal That Changes Everything 1?
2. The Making of a Fan 9?
3. The Best Group Ever 21?
4. Not Ready for Prime Time 42?
5. The Kid Comes Back 47?
6. The Sweetest Fans 63?
7. Marking Maradona 69?
8. Mr. Blatter Comes to America 93?
9. The Big Event 99?
10. America's First Soccer Champion 120?
11. Allons, Enfants 125?
12. Americans Win World Cup-Again 149?
13. The Year of the Outsiders 156?
14. The Home I Was Always Seeking 186?
15. Scandal and Head-Butt 190?
16. Nelson Mandela Meets FIFA 209?
17. Spain Makes a Breakthrough 213?
18. Blatter Scores an Own Goal 229?
19. The Age of Klinsmann 241?
Epilogue: Back to the Roots 252

Appendix: Eight World Cups 255?
Bibliography 257?
Acknowledgments 273?
Index 277

From the Publisher

On the eve of the 2014 World Cup, New York Times sports columnist George Vecsey offers a personal perspective on the beautiful game

Blending witty travelogue with action on the field-and shady dealings in back rooms-George Vecsey offers an eye-opening, globe-trotting account of the last eight World Cups. He immerses himself in the great national leagues, historic clubs, and devoted fans and provides his up-close impressions of charismatic stars like Sócrates, Maradona, Baggio, and Zidane, while also chronicling the rise of the U.S. men's and women's teams.

Vecsey shows how each host nation has made the World Cup its own, from the all-night street parties in Spain in 1982 to the roar of vuvuzelas in South Africa in 2010, as the game in the stadium is backed up by the game in the street. But the joy is sometimes undermined by those who style themselves the game's protectors.

With his characteristic sharp reporting and eye for detail, Vecsey brings this global event to vivid life and has written a perfect companion for the upcoming 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

About the Author

George Vecsey has written more than a dozen books, including the bestseller Stan Musial: An American Life. He joined The New York Times in 1968, wrote the "Sports of the Times" column from 1982 to 2011, and is now a contributing columnist. He was honored in 2013 by the National Soccer Hall of Fame for his contributions as one of the first columnists at a major U.S. newspaper to cover the sport. He lives in Port Washington, New York.

Editorial Reviews

"George Vecsey . writes eloquently and passionately about the sport on a journey from Spain in 1982 to South Africa in 2010." -The New York Times"Full of humor and insight about sport and culture. Vecsey had me on page 202 of his new book when he characterized Cristiano Ronaldo as 'the most annoying great player in captivity.' Nah, he had me well before that. The pomp, glory, and great entertainment all get their due in Eight World Cups." -The Boston Globe"No one has ever described sports better than Vecsey and he describes soccer...better than any other sport. Every run to the goal, every great defensive stop, is discussed in this book by details that will remind readers of such descriptive writers as Hemingway, Thomas Wolfe, and John Updike. You don't find writing like this these days in novels and poetry, much less sportswriting. Vecsey's book is a masterpiece." -Florida Times-Union"Vecsey proves himself a comfortable Cup companion.A few days reading Vecsey and life on the pitch becomes a beautiful (and understandable) game." -The Christian Science Monitor"For anyone with even the most pedestrian knowledge of soccer, [Eight World Cups] is an entertaining read, a terrific primer on the sport's modern history, and a profound take on America's own soccer renaissance occurring right now." -Men's Fitness"A witty, inviting companion/introduction to the joys of soccer on the world stage.Throughout, Vecsey's narrative is full of fun and gentle wisdom. There are few things greater
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