After reading several books related to work, it was nice to get back to something more recreational. As a football fan (and by football I mean international football aka soccer), I always get into a slump after the World Cup, the Euro’s, or any other major international tournament. But after browsing my libraries “New Books” section the title, Eight World Cups by George Vecsey caught my eye and gave me a little emotional boost.
Eight World Cups is the memoirs of a sportswriter who was assigned to the 1982 World Cup because no one else really wanted to from his publisher. And after experiencing the excitement of the World Cup and seeing what the Brazilians call the jogo bonito (beautiful game) he became hooked and continued covering the next seven World Cups the four years in between each month-long tournament. Since the book was written before the 2014 tournament in Rio de Janeiro, I don’t know if he covered that one or not. But he writes up through the U.S.’s successful attempt to make it to our seventh World Cup in 2013.
I can relate to his experiences a lot and I appreciate that he is sharing with a new generation of Americans who have grown up in a more diversified sports world. By that I mean a world in which American don’t think soccer isn’t a bad word and is only for people who can’t play “real” sports. Vecsey grew up playing soccer for his elementary school back when most kids weren’t good at soccer unless your parents were immigrants. There wasn’t an established professional soccer league where players could hone their skills in order to play competitively on the international level. So with his limited background and fledgling interest he volunteered for his first World Cup.
I came of age with soccer along with the majority of the current twenty/thirty somethings. We were the ones who watched the 2006 Germany World Cup because ESPN finally decided it was an event worth showing. And since then I’ve been hooked! Vecsey also describes his coming-of-age in soccer. From the days where the other team’s fans outnumbered ours to the days where we finally have record-breaking game attendances at our MLS games.
Vecsey does a good job at mixing the events of the World Cup as well as his own self-awareness of how soccer and soccer culture affects him. For those of you who are doubtful, I would encourage you to give this book, and soccer, a chance and see how the jogo bonito can change your life.