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Love and Blood: At the World Cup with the Footballers, Fans, and Freaks Paperback – October 1, 2007

2.9 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The FIFA World Cup is the planet's biggest event. Not sporting event-event, period, writes Trecker in this in-your-face firsthand account of the 2006 World Cup in Germany. Trecker, Fox Sports soccer columnist, is passionate about the game (Munich exploded in the sixth minute when Phillip Lahm, employing his signature move, cut from the left side into the area to sink a powerful right-footed shot into the top of Jose Porras's net) and the players (What makes Zidane truly special is not that he can control the pace of a match-there are other holding midfielders in the game-but that his motions and instincts are artful, serene, and beautiful). Unfortunately, Trecker, while covering the sport, the games and the '06 World Cup comprehensively, falls prey to clichéd sports writing. He spends much time describing brothels (in South Korea and Germany), topless women and drunken debauchery-of both fans and the media alike. While not without its pleasures, this is mostly for the already initiated rather than the general reader. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

In the run-up to the 2006 World Cup, U.S. publishers offered many books explaining the World Cup, soccer, and why players aren't allowed to use their hands. Certainly, many Americans still need the help, but books timed to coincide with the event lacked a crucial element: results. The U.S. team went home early, but journalist Trecker went the distance. His firsthand account of soccer madness is lively and intelligent, as full of funny anecdotes as it is opinionated commentary. He doesn't stint the historical context, either, detailing not only the history of the tournament but changing cultural and political attitudes toward it. And if he occasionally provides a little too much background—the U.S. history of the game is a book in itself (see Jim Haner's Soccerhead, 2006)—he goes some other writers one better by placing the tournament in another crucial context: financial (because money is what makes the world of sport go round). This comes too late for 2006 World Cup newbies, of course, but it proves to be the book they were waiting for. Graff, Keir
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Harvest Books; 1 edition (October 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156030985
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156030984
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,302,385 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Keith Perry on December 27, 2007
Format: Paperback
I had no grasp of how little I knew of US Soccer, much less the world cup, until reading Trecker's book. It is a "stay up all night 'cause it's so engaging" flight through the politics, sociology, finance, underbelly and countless freaks which color the world football stage. It doesn't just tell the story (and it does, with great entertainment value); it gives you an understanding of all the forces behind the story, and why it matters.
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Format: Paperback
If the write had only stuck to soccer it could have been a good book. It is too self-absorbed and almost self-pitying at times and that made the book repeatedly annoying.

There is no question write knows a lot about the trials and tribulations of soccer matches in the world cup arena, but it just was lost in the personal detritus.

The book was also decidedly long with historical asides that got very lengthy, and the writer is no expert in history but is a Fox sports reporter apparently.

There are better "football" books.
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Format: Paperback
I picked this book up on my way out of a Borders store, not having previously heard anything about it. The title and the short description on the back, however, intrigued me as I spent 4 weeks at home in Germany last summer.

Trecker does a good job shedding light on the workings of FIFA, the US soccer federation and the problems the sport faces in the US. The soccer tidbits in the book are a good read, but he gets much too shallow when he tries to analyse participating countries, their followers and customs. He should have left the judgement out of this book (or analyse deeper) - after all, why do I care about his inability to buy medicine in the host country, something he goes into some detail about? And while he complains multiple times about perceived transportation problems he makes no effort to investigate the underlying reasons - good journalism reads differently.

While I found the concept (reading a book about the 2006 World Cup) intriguing, the execution fell short of my expectations.
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Before I begin, it would probably be wise to let everything out. After all, if a reader understands where I am coming from, they can take my observations with the appropriate grains of salt.

First off, at one time, I was writing for any number of soccer sites, including MLSnet.com. I gained somewhat of a reputation from my work at the now defunct InternetSoccer.com. In some circles I guess I was considered a "journalist," but I laugh at that one, as I personally wouldn't sully the reputation of the many good real journalists out there by lumping myself in with them. Anyhow, thanks to my work, I had a chance to interact with a good many soccer journalists, including the author of "Love & Blood: At the World Cup with the Footballers, Fans, and Freaks," Mr. Jamie Trecker.

Among the many of us who intently follow the sport in the US, there is this sort of love/hate relationship with Mr. Trecker. On the one hand, we value and appreciate the few professional soccer writers in the US. On the other, Mr. Trecker has been one of the most outspoken critics of Major League Soccer, US Soccer, and anything else related to the US game. Like anything, some of his criticism is justified, some of it is not. Many of the disagreements many have with him is the fact has to do with personality, his argumentative style, and his pretentiousness. Throw in a penchant for the perceived lack of substance and his running loose with facts, you can understand why his name causes many soccer fans to roll their eyes.

There are other reasons as well, but if you are reading "Love & Blood" you are probably well aware of the issues. In fairness, Mr. Trecker has always stated that his objective was to cover the sport the way other sports are covered.
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Format: Paperback
Trecker certainly spends a lot of time in this book talking about the problems that the typical American sports fan has with soccer. Unfortunately, his text also highlights the problems that most American soccer fans have with American soccer writers. Trecker tries so hard to be presentable to the illuminati of the sport in his politics, in his views of his country, and his views of his sports' fans that he never gets around to writing anything informative or even interesting about the World Cup in general. Considering how interesting the Cup actually is, that is a feat in itself. Don't bother with this one.
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Format: Paperback
I enjoyed this book as much as Bill Buford's "Among the Thugs." It's the same mix of humor, first-person observation, and mini-history lessons, all woven together in a breezy, entertaining style.

A lot of "Love & Blood" focuses on off-the-pitch fan activity in bars, train stations, public squares, and more. This is not a book simply about which countries won/lost the games in Germany. Trecker also makes some valid points about the absurd over-commodification and corporatization that the World Cup has become (like every other major sporting event on the globe.)

Some reviewers here have found the tone of this book too negative, but having a spotlight on the BS is essential to understanding the event as a whole, and Trecker does it with a sense of humor.
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