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Zahra Soukar Aaron Pellerin


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Zahra Soukar

Aaron Pellerin

English 1020

27 Sep 2010

Globalization is the process of including many cultures and societies throughout the whole world. Globalization is a controversial issue that many people debate on it and its many theories. An interesting theory of Globalization was raised by Franklin Foer, an editor of The New Republic magazine, in his book “How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization”. Foer used a fun and popular game to explain his theory of globalization and how soccer is a motive for each person to hate and respect the other team and how it is linked to everything that is happening in the world from hate to nationalism as it uncovers the thoughts and believes hidden in each person’s mind. Foer has traveled the world from one stadium to the other to find out answers and interview with most people to find out about the history of soccer there and how it connects to his theory. In “How Soccer Explains the World”, Franklin Foer argues that soccer explains the world as a theory of globalization by showing us the hatred and violence displayed in the game, the economic status of the teams and immigration, and the effects of nationalism and its return.

The book starts off with two chapters that explain how soccer can explain the hate and violence in the world. Throughout the First chapter Foer travels to Belgrade and interviews many people and gangs to reach the conclusion that the stadiums of soccer has presented the hate and crimes that Serbs did against the Croatians and the Bosnians. He explains the role of Arkan and his team, the Tigers, who “have left their supporters’ props somewhere under the arches of Marakana stadium and have set off to the war with rifles in their hands”(Belgrade sports paper). A very important match for them was the Dinamo Vs Red Star where the match turned into war between the fans. “When the Dinamo fans began throwing stones at them, the red star fans used the billboards as shields. Fences that separated the opposing fans mysteriously disappeared” and a “brawl engulfed the entire stadium”(Foer 16). By talking about this, he gave his argument more support and showed that the Tigers have helped Serbia in the Balkan War and somehow got the hate and turned it into hooliganism the stadiums of soccer. However, Serbs were not the only ones who displayed violence through the soccer stadiums, sects of Christianity have been doing that too in the soccer field.

This is what Foer wrote about in his second chapter, where he explained how the protestants, Ranger’s fans have had hate toward the Catholics, the Celtics’ fans. They have kept their hate in the stadiums and committed crimes that “over the last seven years, the match has run up a toll of eight directly related deaths in Glasgow” (Foer 37). Glasgow has risen economically and became just like any other Britain city. However, the customs and believes of the soccer matches have not faded “because it provides the city with a kind of pornographic pleasure”(Foer 40). Foer has proven that the hate between the sects of religion cannot fade away or disappear as Glasgow becomes more modern which can support his argument of how soccer explains the religion sects.

Franklin Foer did a great job at establishing his credibility when he took a leave from his job as editor for the New Republic magazines and began traveling the world from one stadium to another trying to interview fans, players, teams and learning more about the cities and history and seeing how it is showed by soccer. He also devoted much of his time trying to learn the history of a Jewish team that had a large impact but was forgotten couple years after.

One of the stadiums he visited was in Vienna. From there, an all Jewish team called Hakoah was beginning to form. A team that was not afraid to show the people that they were Jewish even in the worst times. Many Jews at that time suffered from Anti-Semitism. According to Nordau’s muscular Judaism, he explained the suffering when he said that “in the narrow Jewish streets, our poor limbs forgot how to move joyfully in the gloom of sunless houses our eyes became accustomed to nervous blinking……We want to restore to the flabby Jewish body its lost tone to make it vigorous and strong, nimble and powerful”(69). In this chapter, Foer explained how the Jews suffered from the people and the violence they got through soccer when he said “common shouts from opposing fans included drecskjude (dirty Jew) and the oxymoronic judensau (Jewish pig)” (72). However, when Hakoah began bringing victories to their country, the people began giving more respect to the Jews. “Each Hakoah victory become another proof that the period of Jewish inferiority in physical activities had come to an end.”(Schechter 74).

Also, emigration of African Americans players from Nigeria has made a difference in the economy and business of the countries. They became an important part in Ukraine’s soccer that “an owner who didn’t buy Nigerians wasn’t an ambitious owner” (Foer 142). Ukraine’s saved by the oligarchs after the communist regime with the help of the Nigerians and their “skills and speed that Ukrainians lacked” (Foer 143). One of the Nigerians was Edward who, as Foer stated, did not just make a difference in soccer but he also was a “cross-cultural experiment” and it “followed the rules of globalization to perfection” (144). Lviv, the soccer club that brought Edward, also wanted to have international coach so it brought an English coach which was a symbol of western globalization. However, soccer wasn’t all about hate and emigration. It also showed the effects of nationalism and the signs of its return

The last part of Foer’s book talked about nationalism in many countries and cultures. He begins with analyzing Barcelona and how its color, name is them showing pride in their nation. However, critics of soccer stated that the “game gives life to tribal identities which should be disappearing” and “the game inherently culminates in death and destruction” (197). Foer proves the critics wrong when he describes the stadiums being “filled with more women and children than any in Europe” where loving a team does not always turn into hooliganism. Also, Soccer has made changes in the Islamic world where women had proven that they could challenge the government and refuse its orders without being afraid especially after women entering the stadium violently.

"Fearing the horde, the police let three thousand women into special seating, segregated from the rest of the stadium. But what about the two thousand women on the other side of the turnstile who hadn't wormed their way into the Azadi? The admission of their dear sisters did nothing to placate them. Determined to get their own piece of the celebration, they broke through the police gates and muscled their way into the stadium. Intent on avoiding a major fracas that could steer the raw emotions of the day in a dangerous direction, the police had no choice but to overlook their entry and concede defeat. When future historians write about the transformation of the Middle East, they will likely wax lyrical about this moment, which already has come to be known as the 'football revolution'" (Foer 221).

In his last chapter, Foer argues that the reason Americans hate soccer is because they are anti-globalization. He said that “people with actual power believe that soccer represents a genuine threat to the American way of life”(240-1) and he proved his statement when he brought a saying from the united state congress saying that “I think it is important for all those young out there — who someday hope to play real football, where you throw it and kick it and run with it and put it in your hands — [that] a distinction should be made that football is democratic capitalism, whereas soccer is a European socialist sport."(how soccer explains the world 241)

Globalization is change, and change is never easy or always peaceful. It is sometimes violent but it will bring peace at the end. Soccer explaining this kind of globalization is what Foer meant in his book where he went through the hatred and violence displayed in the game, the economic status of the teams and immigration, and the effects of nationalism and its importance to prove his point. His argument was rhetorically correct where he displayed ethos, pathos, and logos to make his argument successful


Work Cited Page


Foer, Franklin. How Soccer explains the World: an Unlikely theory of Globalization. New York: HarperCollins, 2004. Print.


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