Sunday, December 27, 2009

Simon Kuper

Simon Kuper is the author of Soccernomics: Why England Loses, Why Germany and Brazil Win, and Why the U.S., Japan, Australia, Turkey — Even Iraq — Are Destined to Become the Kings of the World’s Most Popular Sport, written with the economist Stefan Syzmanski.

From his Q & A with Jack Bell at the New York Times:

Q. The book has just been published in the U.S. after having been published in England in August. What has the reaction been like over there?

A. Mostly good, the ration of good to bad reviews is probably 4-to-1 in England. In the U.S. the initial response has been more positive. That may not last. In England everyone thinks they know it already and that it’s their job to set author right. Americans are more literate on the economics than Europeans. They recognize that economics makes things go.

Q. In a snippet, what is the heart of the matter in the book?

A. The heart of the matter is that the thinking in soccer is outdated, backward and tradition-based. It needs a fresh look based on data. There’s a new global map, with countries like the U.S. and Japan already rising. And they will continue to rise at the expense of Europe as knowledge gets disbursed. And it’s happening very quickly.

One example from the book: I went to conference of professional locators in Rome and it got me thinking how silly some things are in football, where the only real resource is the players. Clubs spend enormous amounts of money to buy and transport then and then just drop them don’t do anything to help them adapt. How are they going to fit in Middlesbrough or Madrid? Most teams just say get on with it. It’s military-based. In the game there’s an admiration for military people, in Britain it goes back to 1945. The game is rooted in a male working class that is strong. And the model is a soldier who doesn’t complain, a warrior.

So a player moves with his family and if his wife is...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue