In the months leading up to World Cup 2010/South Africa, I will be commenting on my collection of soccer books, thus combining two of my greatest loves. LOVE&BLOOD is available through major online retailers, i.e. Amazon, Borders, etc.
This book has a blurb that’s actually useful. The idea of the micromanaging German establishment trying to keep things sane during the Big Show is laughable. During the summer of 2006, we could laugh at the Germans for good reasons. Jamie Trecker, the author, is an insider. He works for Fox Sports; his specialty being soccer. He’s been in the press trenches for two world cups (02, 06), and will most probably be in them again for 2010 in South Africa. His experiences are made more dramatic by the fact that he suffers from severe epilepsy and had to take copious amounts of medication. I don’t know how he survived. Sheer force of will, I guess.
When it comes to soccer, the only sport I care deeply about, I’m more of a “people person”. I love learning about the players, the managers, the politics. The gossip! Soccer gossip is way better than Hollywood gossip. Way, way better! The money is unreal! Grown men who own multinational whatsits bow down to lick the Diadoras (who have gone broke, btw.), Adidas, and Nikes of players like Christiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Zidane, and Ronaldinho (who’s on his last legs, having eaten all the pies!).
Soccer commercials during the World Cup season are hilarious and brilliant. Remember 2006? Eric Cantona, who once “autographed the face of a fan with his studs”, bursts into a German tv studio to take it over and spread the word about JOGA BONITO! Genius!!! Ronaldinho as a little boy, playing with a passion and love you NEVER see in NFL these days. (College games, maybe. But in NFL, it’s all about sniffing the oxygen. Wimps.) Adidas’s IMPOSSIBLE TEAM! With the real players!! Beat that, NBA. One of the absolute best, and probably most expensive, has to be the 2002 Nike SECRET TOURNAMENT. Cantona was in that one, too. For soccer lovers, that commercial was a dream come true. Seven years later, I still watch it a couple of times a month.
A lot of the book is about South Korea/Japan 2002. That might seem a waste of space, but Trekker goes on to compare and contrast 02 and 06, which for a reader/writer like me, is just perfect. The whole book is very personal. No Baedeker this, neither Fodor’s. I hate to use the word “cool”, but this is just a freaking cool memoir. And I don’t even like memoirs. Also, it has a 20-page introduction, which is mostly the South Korea 2002 experience. Dude, if it’s running to 20 pages, just title it already and call it Chapter One. We won’t mind. Really.
I really like that the back of the book contains a summary of the 06 World Cup with comments. Love that! There’s also a nicely detailed index. It’s a very fan-friendly book, written by a fan of the game.
I don’t just love soccer. I love it with the enthusiasm of a girl’s first crush. I love it like the promotion you never saw coming, then suddenly it’s yours. Like when you’re going to your first “grownups” party. That fresh, sunny, jubilant, PURE passion. Myopic, consuming, teeth-gnashing, endorphin-releasing, jingoistic soccer.
LOVE & BLOOD gives you sackfulls of gory details. The crappy weather in South Korea: Trekker describes the air as “stew”. Oy! The frantic efforts of the Germans to live in the “here and now”. Drinking. Shantytowns set up for the press. More drinking. Dodgy access to electronics. Impregnable press conferences. Reticent managers. Drink. Hype. Above all things, hype.
Next year, we get to do it all again in South Africa! Break out your vuvuzelas and take a deep breath…
The Powers That Be: Continental federations
- · UEFA>Union of European Football Association
- · FIFA>Fedédération Internationale de Football Association
- CONMEBOL>Confederación Sudamérica de Fútbol
- · CONCACAF>Confederation of North, Central American, and Caribbean Association Football. USMNT made it to the semifinals of this one, which is currently being played in various venues in the US. As of this posting, games can be seen on ESPN, Fox Soccer Channel and Mexican stations. If the USMNT makes it to the finals, this will officially be the most epic year in the history of men’s soccer since the year Pelé played for the New York Cosmos.