The World is a Ball

The Joy, Madness and Meaning of Soccer

Publisher: Anchor Canada
Globe and Mail columnist John Doyle explores the international phenomenon of soccer

In A Great Feast of Light, John Doyle viewed his childhood in Ireland through the television screen. Now, he turns his eye to the most popular sport on the planet: soccer. It's a journey that begins with the first game John saw, in 1960s-era Ireland, through soccer in the 21st century - the World Cups in 02 and 06, the European Championships in 04 and 08. And Doyle has traveled the globe during the build-up to next year's World Cup 2010. In between the drunken fans, crazed taxi drivers, leprechauns and lederhosen, Doyle muses on the evolution of soccer as a global phenomenon. He shows a sport where for 90 minutes on the pitch anything seems possible. A game where colonized nations can tackle the power of their colonizers; where oppressed immigrant groups can thoroughly trounce their host countries. This book examines soccer from a new angle. John Doyle offers a compelling social history of the ultimate sport, each country and team competing in the historic 2010 World Cup, and how the game has kept pace as the global village has sprung up around the playing field.

From the Hardcover edition.


One: the first kiss
“In my childhood in a small western town, the local soccer club had the status of an illegal organization.”
—John Waters, Irish writer, 2002
It began as most illicit affairs in the old Ireland began: after Mass on a Sunday at a place...
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Praise for A Great Feast of Light:
"[This] book crackles with unexpected angles, and is written with a kind of naïve delight. It is the ideal present for anyone given to pontification about the brain-deadening effects of television."
The Sunday Times, (UK)

"A marvelous read, with keen insights and laugh-out-loud moments..."
Publishers Weekly, starred review

"I had to stop reading several times because I was laughing hysterically."
— Malachy McCourt

From the Hardcover edition.