cover image What We Think About When We Think About Soccer

What We Think About When We Think About Soccer

Simon Critchley. Penguin, $20 (192p) ISBN 978-0-14-313267-7

In this irresistible treatise on how soccer came to be the dominant sport around the globe, Critchley (The Book of Dead Philosophers) weds insights gleaned from a career studying Continental philosophers to his observations and experiences of soccer managers, players, fans, and even his own family. He ties the sport to politics by beginning with a chapter titled “Socialism” before going on to establish what he calls a “poetics of soccer.” He writes, “What is taking place in an organized team is a never-ceasing dialectic between the associative, collective activity of the group and the supportive, flourishing individual actions of the team.” Critchley’s depth and range of knowledge is remarkable. As his protagonists, he uses philosopher Martin Heidegger and Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, men both obsessed with “the moment” and the movement of history through “situations” (terms used in Heidegger’s writing). Critchley addresses head-on the “contradiction between the form of football, as association, socialism, and collective praxis, and the material content of the game, which is money, in its most excessive and grotesque manifestations.” For him, this contradiction creates a philosophical conundrum: How can world soccer be dominated by the fans and the oligarchs at the same time? Critchley’s incisive philosophical meditation will help readers rethink their relationship to soccer. (Oct.)