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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]

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

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Paperback, Oct. 27 2009 --  
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Book Description

Oct. 27 2009
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.


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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."

About the Author

Simon Kuper is one of the world’s leading writers on soccer. His bookSoccer Against the Enemy won the William Hill Prize for sports book of the year in Britain. He writes a weekly sports column in theFinancial Times. He lives in Paris.

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.” Szymanski lives in London.


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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By Complex
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). Furthermore, Kuper is well-travelled and could integrate more of his personal experiences to add some `spice' to the arguments (Hiddink is an excellent example but we also know how he has done speeches at Fenerbahçe Spor Kulübü.

All in all, an excellent book and I would highly recommend it.

4.25/5
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If love soccer you'll love this book Nov. 24 2009
Format:Paperback
This is one fun book to read. The chapter on penalty shoot outs is worth the price alone. I highly recommend it to anyone who actively follows the sport - it's a very entertaining book on a fascinating topic.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Freakonomics in soccer form Nov. 13 2009
By Brian Maitland TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Simon Kuper wrote one of the best books on modern soccer (Football Against the Enemy) while Stefan Szymanski cowrote one of the worst (National Pastime: How Americans Play Baseball And The Rest Of The World Plays Soccer). Maybe because the economist Szymanski teamed with an actual sports journalist this time, Soccernomics actually works on so many levels.

You may not agree with all of their conclusions (i.e., economic might + large population base = soccer success) but they do make strong arguments and give soccer fans a better, and more modern, way of looking at the sport. I don't really get their referencing the Moneyball approach done by the Oakland A's GM Billy Beane in baseball as a comparison. As anyone who has read Michael Lewis's excellent book, the theory works better than the actual results (Oakland having made the playoffs previously under Beane's reign failed in the first rd every postseason and the main player held up as an example in Moneyball of Beane's genius made hardly a dent at the MLB level).

Then again that has to be Szymanski who seems obsessed with comparing soccer to baseball. He really needs to get off that jag.

When the economist and the journalist focus exclusively on soccer they do get much of it spot on especially about how World Cup qualifying records having no correlation to World Cup Finals' success or failure, the reasoning behind England's record at tournament play, how penalties are less of a crapshoot than we think and so much more.

As Freakonomics now begat Super Freakonomics, hopefully these two are writing Super Soccernomics as you read this.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Even predicted the World Cup Accurately! Oct. 14 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
To add to the credibility of what these guys are saying, read and/or re-read this book and compare what they said to what actually happened in the FIFA 2010 World Cup. They said West Europe is currently/still the dominant force at the world soccer stage, that are; they said Japan would do well and they did; and they predicted England's exit to a tee: they predicted they'd lose to Germany or another old war time rival; and they did. Excellent read from both a statistical standpoint and in the entertainment department.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't deliver on the potential Sept. 10 2011
Format:Paperback
I am a long time fan of the Bill James series of books so I was very excited about this book. However, it just didn't deliver for me. I felt that some of the math and derivations seemed opportunistic ... Sometimes ignoring holes because they may have been inconvenient. Perhaps the goals were too ambitious
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