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Soccernomics: Why England Loses, Why Spain, Germany, and Brazil Win, and Why the US, Japan, Australia, Turkey—and Even Iraq—Are Destined to Become the Kings of the World’s Most Popular Sport [Kindle Edition]

Simon Kuper , Stefan Szymanski
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Why do England lose? Why does Scotland suck? Why doesn’t America dominate the sport internationally...and why do the Germans play with such an efficient but robotic style?

These are questions every soccer aficionado has asked. Soccernomics answers them.

Using insights and analogies from economics, statistics, psychology, and business to cast a new and entertaining light on how the game works, Soccernomics reveals the often surprisingly counterintuitive truths about soccer. An essential guide for the 2010 World Cup, Soccernomics is a new way of looking at the world’s most popular game.

Editorial Reviews



Daily Telegraph

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


"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."


"[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."


"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."

About the Author

Simon Kuper’s first book, Soccer Against the Enemy, won the William Hill Prize for sports book of the year in Britain. His second book, Ajax, The Dutch, The War: Football in Europe During the Second World War, was shortlisted for the William Hill Prize and has been translated into six languages. Kuper writes a weekly sports column in the Financial Times, and previously written Soccer columns for the Times and in the Observer. He has been interviewed hundreds of times on radio about sports-and-society issues, and many times on television. In December 2007 he won the annual Manuel Vazquez Montalban prize for sportswriting, awarded by the Colegio de Periodistas de Catalunya and FC Barcelona’s foundation. He lives in Paris, France.

Stefan Szymanski is Professor of Economics and MBA Dean at Cass Business School in London. Tim Harford has called him “one of the world’s leading sports economists”. Stefan has a global reputation, and has published in the Journal of Political Economy, Journal of Economic Literature and Economic Journal. He has also co-authored two books: Winners and Losers: The Business Strategy of Football and National Pastime: How Americans Play Baseball and the Rest of the World Plays Soccer. His next book, Fans of the World; Unite!, co-authored with Steve Ross and dealing with the reform of US sports leagues, will be published by Stanford University Press in autumn 2008. He has acted as a consultant to government and to several major sports organizations, such as the FIA (motor sport), UEFA (football) and ICC (cricket). He lives in London, UK.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1492 KB
  • Print Length: 450 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1568587015
  • Publisher: Nation Books; 2 edition (May 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0080K3KFE
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #466,800 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remarkably moving, much more enjoyable than I expected February 23, 2013
By Archer
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Soccernomics does two things very well. One is expose widely accepted beliefs in soccer culture. This is precisely what I expected from this book, and it's worth buying just to be informed on that front.

It also uses statistics to reveal the social unity that soccer fosters. I was very moved by the chapter that focuses on suicide and fandom (and club loyalty at large).

Please do not be scared away by the word "statistics". I hate math as much if not more than anyone. This book is extremely accessible to the average reader, but still deep enough to pique intellectual curiosity.

In short, Soccernomics is an absolute must-read if you are a soccer fan, period.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
I bought this book on impulse during the month-long Euro 2012 tournament. I don't normally buy books on impulse but this one had me hooked quite quickly. Having liked Freakonomics and being a life-long soccer fan, this book was a great read. However, it was disappointing in a number of places where they resorted to long narrative of various hypotheses without rigorous data analysis to test the hypotheses. The prime example is of England's failure to achieve because of a reliance on players from working class roots and underrepresentation of the middle classes. An interesting hypothesis to be sure, but absolutely no comparison was done with other countries - so we don't know if how much this might be true. The book is strongest when dealing with data-rich analyses such as predictability of penalty-takers' tendencies. But it is definitely worth a read if you like soccer - probably not so much if you don't.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The title says it all May 15, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I think most fans of the game will find this book enjoyable to read. You certainly learn a lot from it, but it can get a bit tedious in places. There were a few times where I had to just put it down for a few times when I just had to put it down because I got bored with it, so I am giving it 3 stars. I more diehard soccer or economics fan probably would find the book gripping.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read for any lover of soccer November 23, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I am an economist who loves soccer. It was fascinating to read how they applied core economic and statistical skills to understanding soccer and what works and what fails. It was especially interesting to see the case for the under-achievers and over-achievers,and them transfer vs. wage bill argument. A fabulous book for any lover of soccer.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Want to Know More About Soccer? November 1, 2012
If you wish to learn a lot more about soccer, definitely read this book.

I'm an old guy and have followed and played all of the "Big Four" American sports: baseball, football, basketball and hockey. I'm relatively new to soccer. Thanks to modern media I am now able to watch many English Premier League, La Liga and Serie A games each week.

Read the entire title of the book. If you are a soccer fan, don't you find that title enticing? And trust me, the authors do take great pains to answer all of the "why's" listed in their title!

This book is written from a British perspective and contains tons of insightful information, statistics and history. They take a lot of shots at the EPL because that is probably the league with which they are most familiar. We are told that in many ways the EPL is mired in hidebound tradition and management stupidity, and this has translated into a lack of success for the English national team. Most soccer fans, even the 'knowledgeable' English fans, consider England's World Cup failures every four years to be 'unfortunate' or 'unfair'. This book deflates that notion, and explains why those underwhelming performances by the Brits are not surprising at all. Quite the contrary, England's failures are to be expected.

Of course, baseball is THE sport for those who love statistics. If you are a baseball fan who is curious about soccer or is a fan of the sport, you will probably love this book, because it is crammed with statistical analysis of all kinds. Bill James and Sabermetrics, Moneyball and the Oakland A's are frequently cited throughout.
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Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this book. Much of the book contained perspectives, statistics, and conclusions that you just cant find elsewhere in soccer literature. The book's statistics on the underpayment of black players in the 80's in particular is fantastic. The books section on how the most successful "selling clubs" operate is awesome. Also, during the "game theory of penalty kicks" section I was unable to put the book down. Symanzski and Kuper bring in stories and statistics from media members and soccer pros that support or deny their data.
That being said, there are certain chapters of this book that draw conclusions that are either boring, or wrong. For instance, the chapter comparing the parity of the NFL and the EPL draws the conclusion that the NFL and EPL are relatively equal in parity(despite NFL having 12 champions since the EPLs conception and the EPL having 5 champions, and one team with more than half the titles). I had to really force myself through the chapter on which country is most crazed about soccer. I felt that the conclusion was only slightly interesting, and the methodology not interesting whatsoever.
This book is certainly unique, and you can get perspectives that aren't really available elsewhere. I'd reccomend this book if your a big fan of soccer, but if you are just a casual, this book probably doesn't have too much to offer you.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars for fans of football this is a must
I am a huge fan of football and also of football manager
this book really breakdown the sport and make the reader know more about what why where
Published 3 months ago by Jun Bouya
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Good reason why Spain has had so much success in world futbol as well as Germany. A good book to read as a 'work in progress' for the U S A. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Mike Prosser
5.0 out of 5 stars Read This or Your Soccer Ball Will Deflate
I bought this because I'm an American attempting to understand the world of soccer. It's a good book... well-written and moves right along. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Max Bville
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but not compelling
The authors present some interesting information as well as some research methods that one wouldn't expect to be used in the manner they present. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Anthony Watson
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
Starts off well but soon you start questioning the authors assumptions.
Published 7 months ago by Carlitos
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing...obvious...boring
Perhaps my expectations for this book were off, but overall I was disappointed.
Obviously it's two world cups old now, so much of the material may be not as topical. Read more
Published 7 months ago by wiggum
5.0 out of 5 stars great book, buy it!
Great book. Made me much more interested in both soccer and economics. In fact this is one of those great yet terrible books that when you read you sigh and wish you read it as a... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Law student
5.0 out of 5 stars Eye opening, very interesting
This book does well to describe why countries are as good as they are using statistical information, it was interesting
Published 11 months ago by Jake
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic book, will reread this
This book had so much interesting information in it, I often wanted to share that information with other soccer fans but it is hard to do it justicse. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Larry
5.0 out of 5 stars great read for player, coach, manager
book explains a lot why soccer is not profitable in areas an clubs, where it should be played in areas, what contributes to the success of clubs an why...great read.
Published 14 months ago by Ernest G. Irelan
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