The World is a Ball

The World is a Ball


In The World is a Ball, critic and author John Doyle travels the world in pursuit of his first love - football. In dispatches from Italy to Ireland and from Buenos Aires to Bratislava, and between encounters with crazed taxi drivers and drunken fans dressed as leprechauns or in lederhosen, Doyle celebrates the evolution of soccer as a global phenomenon.

He begins his journey with the first game he saw in repressed 1960s Ireland - a match which left a lasting impression on him - and then skips through the decades to concentrate on football in the twenty-first century. Here he focuses on the World Cups of 2002 and 2006, the European Championships of 2004 and 2008, and the key games and teams involved in qualifying for the historic 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

With eyewitness accounts that are both hilarious and nostalgic, The World is a Ball brilliantly weaves together travelogue, match-reporting and compelling social history. It's an insightful and thought-provoking vision of the beautiful game which for some is more a religion than a sport: where colonized nations can triumph over their colonizers, the poor are rich in the pleasure of play, and for ninety minutes, anything seems possible.


  • A witty and honest hymn to soccer, this book is also a meditation on fandom, television, international travel and national identity as mediated through sport. John Doyle registers in vivid prose the strange blend of genius, attrition and downright cheating that is modern football.
    Declan Kiberd

About the author

John Doyle

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