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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 to Become the Kings of the World's Most Popular Sport Paperback – October 27, 2009


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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 to Become the Kings of the World's Most Popular Sport + The Numbers Game: Why Everything You Know About Soccer Is Wrong + Inverting The Pyramid: The History of Soccer Tactics
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Nation Books; Original edition (October 27, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1568584253
  • ISBN-13: 978-1568584256
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #305,363 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Call it Moneyball for soccer: journalist Kuper (Soccer against the Enemy, 2006) and economist Szymanski (Fans of the World, Unite! 2008) apply cold, hard facts to our commonly held beliefs about the beautiful game and tell us that everything we think we know is wrong. England’s national team doesn’t underachieve (if anything, given its size, location, and talent pool, it overachieves); paying big money for hot players isn’t a good idea (usually, the players’ exertions mean they’ll underperform next year); and soccer clubs make terrible (though remarkably durable) businesses. Unlike Kuper’s more sober Soccer against the Enemy, there’s a teasing playfulness, almost braggadocio, here, as the authors burst bubble after bubble using the words, “We have the data to answer this question.” As they acknowledge, some fans will resist subjecting long-held emotional attachments to the cold light of statistical analysis. And some may argue their findings: just as Billy Beane’s Oakland A’s are coming off their third losing season, author-praised AC Milan is off to a terrible start. But whether analyzing the relationship of spending to winning or applying game theory to the penalty kick, the authors’ delight in discovery proves both persuasive and contagious. It’s a fascinating book with the potential to effect genuine change in the sport. --Keir Graff

Review

LONGLISTED FOR THE WILLIAM HILL SPORTS BOOK OF THE YEAR 2009

Daily Telegraph
"If you're a football fan, I'll save you some time: read this book ... compulsive reading ... thoroughly convincing."

Observer
"Szymanksi has recently published the best introduction to sports economics ... while Kuper is probably the smartest of the new generation of super-smart sportswriters ... fascinating stories."

Metro
"[Kuper and Szymanski] basically trash every cliché about football you ever held to be true. It's bravura stuff … the study of managers buying players and building a club is one you’ll feel like photocopying and sending to your team's chairman"

Paddy Harverson, former communications director of Manchester United, Financial Times
"Demolishes ... many soccer shibboleths ... well argued, too. Szymanski, an economist, knows his stuff, and Kuper, a born contrarian and FT sports writer, is incapable of cliché ... great stories and previously unknown nuggets."

Sport Magazine
"One for the thinkers"

The Times
"More thoughtful than most of its rivals and, by football standards, postively intellectual ... Kuper, a brilliantly contrary columnist, and Szymanski, an economics professor ... find plenty of fertile territory in their commendable determination to overturn the lazy preconceptions rife in football."

Prospect
"Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski are a highly effective and scrupulously rational team, combining the former's detailed and nuanced understanding of European football with the latter's sophisticated econometric analysis. With a remarkable lightness of touch, they desmonstrate the limits of conventional thinking in football, as well as the real patterns of behaviour that shape sporting outcomes."

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Customer Reviews

I really enjoyed reading this book and gave it 5 stars despite some of Soccernomics' shortcomings.
Billy Bob
This book is a great read for anyone who truly enjoys the game of soccer or the study of statistics and its usage in society.
Robert H
Interestingly, the publisher did not respond to my email or Twitter mentions regarding the formatting issue of this ebook.
Sarah Moon

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 37 people found the following review helpful By D. M. Kemp on December 31, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was made aware of this book when I heard one of the authors give an interview. Many of the topics in the interview weren't in the book, but a host of other areas where. The book is easy to read and well researched. However, it is very much written from a British point of view - so don't let the Americanized title of Soccernomics fool you. It mainly appears to be a book that hopes to explain to the English that they are not the most rabid fans nor the best players of the game they invented 150 years ago.

Some of the chapters were so absolutely fascinating, I couldn't stop reading. Other chapters were so ultimately boring that I skipped them. The good thing is that you can skip around and read each chapter independently without really losing any overall scope of the book.

Even though I didn't agree with some the conclusions and read the data differently, I certainly feel much more knowledgeable about the current game and how we got here. If you are a fan of soccer, you should seriously consider this fact-filled book. It will make for great discussions around the TV during next summer's World Cup.
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38 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Paul Allaer TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 27, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Simon Kuper is the long-time weekly sports columnist in the Financial Times, and he is one of the reasons I so look forward to reading the Weekend Edition of the pink paper. When I saw that he had authored a new book about soccer, and then saw more details about what the book would be about, I knew I just had to have it and ordered it here on Amazon at a very purchase-friendly price.

"Soccernomics: Why England Loses, Why Germany and Brazil Win, and Why the U.S., Japan, Australia, Turkey--And Even Iraq--Are Destined To Become The Kings of the World's Most Popular Sport" (336 pages) is co-written by Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski, a British economist. An economist, you might ask? Yes indeed, as this book brings a fascinating look into the numbers of soccer. Here a couple of quotes from the book:

-- "In 2002 everyone knew that the obscure, bucktoothed Brazilian kid Ronaldinho must have lucked out with the free kick that sailed into England's net, because he couldn't have been good enough to place it deliberately." (commenting on the English belief of freakish bad luck for their national team).

-- "Our finding: England in the 1980-2001 period outscored its opponents by 0.84 goals per game. That was 0.21 more than we had predicted based on the country's resources. In short, England was not underperforming at all. Contrary to popular opinion, it was over-performing."

-- "Soccer is not only small business business. It's also a bad one. Anyone who spends any time inside soccer discovers that just as oil is part of the oil business, stupidity is part of the soccer business.
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26 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Laurence Zimmerman on November 21, 2009
Format: Paperback
Offers some very interesting insights into the world of soccer. While some compare it to Michael Lewis's "Moneyball", it differs in that "Moneyball" deals more with baseball at the micro level, while "Soccernomics" deals with soccer at a macro level. There is a lot of statistical analysis of national teams, but no analysis of individual players. In essence this is one of the difficulties of soccer, as it does not naturally lend itself to extreme statistical analysis like baseball does.

My main argument with the book is that it treats the NFL as the US's main export sport. While the NFL is undoubtedly the most popular league in the United States, this is a recent phenomenon. Baseball has traditionally been "America's Past Time" and thus is the sport that the United States spread around the world, although not to the same level that the English spread soccer.

One analysis that I wanted to read about was the success of Latin American teams. In particular an analysis of Mexico and Brazil. Both countries are soccer crazy and have very large populations, but Brazil has won five World Cups and Mexico none. It would be interesting to see an analysis of why this has happend, but the book mainly deals with European teams as their statistics are more reliable.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Complex on March 18, 2010
Format: Paperback
I first came to know the name Simon Kuper when he was a guest lecturer at a local university in Toronto, Canada. The articulate British author talked about his new novel Soccernomics and some of the core arguments. Despite making some fascinating points about football, he looked uncomfortable and unable to answer some of the questions that the audience prosed in the Q&A period. I was greeted with a great deal of skepticism, but decided to purchase the book anyway.

After reading through the book, I can safely say Soccernomics is fantastic and a must-read for any soccer fan! Stefan Szymanski lives up to his billing as a top sports economist with thorough detail and Kuper fits the part with his commentary including tidbits of witty humour. Correlating statistical analysis with any sport is extremely difficult because you are attempting to satisfy the common reader without flattening the economic methodology. Kuper is to-the-point and articulate in his arguments. Most importantly, he does not make an argument, and then uses statistics to back up his perspective. Rather, he reads through the information, recognizes patterns, and creates a formula. Several fascinating chapters include Core to the Periphery (Guus Hiddink) and why England loses.

Despite the many positives, there are some flaws. At times, the economic analysis is overwhelming and seems suited more for a peer-reviewed journal than a book for the common consumer. As well, some of the variables are far too large (population, income etc) and rarely include common competing variables (other popular sports etc).
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