Why Soccer Matters in Latin America

Joshua H. Nadel

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"Lively and fascinating. Nadel shows beautifully how soccer and politics have long been deeply intertwined, serving both to further state agendas and open up space for protest and contestation."--Laurent Dubois, author of Soccer Empire

"In much of Latin America, soccer is more than a game. It is linked to each nation's identity in similar yet unique ways. Nadel offers a comprehensive look at this process."--Joseph L. Arbena, coeditor of Sport in Latin America and the Caribbean

"Thoughtful and engaging. Examining the history of the game, its powerful myths, and its engrossing reality, Nadel helps scholars, students, and fans to understand Latin Americans' passion for the world's sport."--Gregg Bocketti, Transylvania University

"Nadel knows Latin American soccer like a professor, but he loves it like a fan, and his enthusiasm is contagious. He uses sports history to teach larger insights about Latin America. Fútbol! will make you smarter about the sport and about the region, too. It's a book you want to read."--John Charles Chasteen, author of Born in Blood and Fire

"Here are the football cultures of Latin America in all their macho glory, but here too is the story of women's football and its challenge to Latino masculinities. Above all, here is an account of football and nationalism, erudite and engaged, that remains rooted in the realities of play."--David Goldblatt, author of The Ball Is Round

Discover the dreams, passions, and rivalries that are at stake in Latin America's most popular sport. Fútbol! explains why competitors and fans alike are so fiercely dedicated to soccer throughout the region.

From its origins in British boarding schools in the late 1800s, soccer spread across the globe to become a part of everyday life in Latin America--and part of the region's most compelling national narratives. This book illustrates that soccer has the powerful ability to forge national unity by appealing to people across traditional social boundaries. In fact, author Joshua Nadel reveals that what started as a simple game played an important role in the development of Latin American countries in the twentieth century. Examining the impact of the sport in Argentina, Honduras, Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile, and Mexico, Nadel addresses how soccer affects politics, the media, race relations, and gender stereotypes.

With inspiring personal stories and a sweeping historical backdrop, Fútbol! shows that soccer continues to be tied to regional identity throughout Central and South America today. People live for it--and sometimes kill for it. It is a source of hope and a reason for suicide. It is a way out of poverty for a select few and an intangible escape for millions more. As soccer gains greater worldwide attention today, this book serves as an indispensable guide for understanding soccer’s especially vital importance in Latin America.

Joshua H. Nadel is assistant professor of history and associate director of the Global Studies Program at North Carolina Central University.
Sample Chapter(s):
Table of Contents and Excerpt

Zócalo Public Square's 10 Best Books We Read This Year - 2014

“Well-crafted insights about the many ways football reflects and challenges Latin American societies.”
--Kirkus Reviews

“A great beginners guide to understanding the Latin American game.”
--Deseret News

“Well-researched, wide-ranging, and engagingly written.”
--New Books in Sports

“A must read for any soccer fans who ever wanted to learn more [about] Latin America’s approach to the beautiful game.”
--Latino Sports

A book that while speaking well of futbol in general and its importance in Latin America, we find a pleasant story of our little-known female futbol history.

One of the best English-language books on soccer in Latin America.

An engaging history of Latin America’s most prevalent sport that adds to our understanding of nationalism and imagined communities. . . . This book argues for soccer’s relevance in understanding Latin America and captures the game’s drama, joy, and despair through vignettes of famous players and matches.
--Hispanic American Historical Review

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