Soccer against the Enemy is a book which chronicles the impact that society has upon soccer, and soccer upon society in various countries throughout the world. The author, Simon Kuper, is a Dutch born writer who has been around the world of soccer for most of his life and has written for numerous publications in Europe. The problem for Kuper is that he wrote this book towards the beginning of his career, and there are a few sections of this book where this becomes obvious. The fact that Kuper was a 23 year old traveling the world on an extremely limited budget gives him some excuse for this, and makes it a distraction that isn’t too noticeable.
“Gulag camp bosses, arbiters of the life and death of thousands upon thousands of human beings… were so benevolent to anything concerning soccer. Their unbridled power over human lives was nothing compared to the power of soccer over them.”
Soccer is much more than just the most popular game in the world. It is a matter of life and death for millions around the world, an international lingua franca. Simon Kuper traveled to twenty-two countries to discover the sometimes bizarre effect soccer can have on politics and culture. At the same time he tried to discover what makes different countries play a simple game so differently. Kuper meets a remarkable variety of fans along the way, from the East Berliner persecuted by the Stasi for supporting his local team, to the Argentine general with his own views on tactics. He also illuminates the frightening intersection between soccer and politics, particularly in the wake of the attacks of 9-11, where soccer is obsessed over by the likes of Osama bin Laden. The result is one of the world’s most acclaimed books on the game, and an astonishing study of soccer and its place in the world.