"The ball turns, the world turns. People suspect the sun is a burning ball that works all day and spends the night bouncing around the heavens while the moon does its shift, though science is somewhat doubtful. There is absolutely no question, however, that the world turns around a spinning ball: the final of the '94 World Cup was watched by more than two billion people, the largest crowd ever of the many that have assembled in this planets history. It is the passion most widely shared: many admirers of the ball play with her on fields and pastures, and many more have box seats in front of the TV and bite their nails as 22 men in shorts chase a ball and kick her to prove their love.
At the end of the 94 Cup every child born in Brazil was named Romário, and the turf of the stadium in Los Angeles was sold off like pizza, at twenty dollars a slice. A bit of insanity worthy of a better cause? A primitive and vulgar business? A bag of tricks manipulated by the owners? Im one of those who believe that soccer might be all that, but it is also much more: a feast for the eyes that watch it and a joy for the body that plays it. A reporter once asked German theologian Dorothee Sölle, How would you explain happiness to a child?
I wouldnt explain it, she answered. Id toss him a ball and let him play.
Professional soccer does everything to castrate that energy of happiness, but it survives in spite of all the spites. And maybe thats why soccer never stops being astonishing. As my friend Ángel Ruocco says, thats the best thing about it — its stubborn capacity for surprise. The more the technocrats program it down to the smallest detail, the more the powerful manipulate it, soccer continues to be the art of the unforeseeable. When you least expect it, the impossible occurs, the dwarf teaches the giant a lesson, and a runty, bowlegged black man makes an athlete sculpted in Greece look ridiculous.
An astonishing void: official history ignores soccer. Contemporary history texts fail to mention it, even in passing, in countries where soccer has been and continues to be a primordial symbol of collective identity. I play therefore I am: a style of play is a way of being that reveals the unique profile of each community and affirms its right to be different. Tell me how you play and Ill tell you who you are. For many years soccer has been played in different styles, unique expressions of the personality of each people, and the preservation of that diversity seems to me more necessary today than ever before. These are days of obligatory uniformity, in soccer and everything else. Never has the world been so unequal in the opportunities it offers and so equalizing in the habits it imposes. In this end-of-century world, whoever does not die of hunger dies of boredom.
For years I have felt challenged by the memory and reality of soccer, and I have tried to write something worthy of this great pagan mass able to speak such different languages and unleash such universal passion. By writing, I was going to do with my hands what I never could accomplish with my feet: irredeemable klutz, disgrace of the playing fields, I had no choice but to ask of words what the ball I so desired denied me.
From that challenge, and from that need for expiation, this book was born. Homage to soccer, celebration of its lights, denunciation of its shadows. I dont know if it has turned out the way soccer would have liked, but I know it grew within me and has reached the final page, and now that it is born it is yours. And I feel that irreparable melancholy we all feel after making love and at the end of the match."
—Eduardo Galeano, El fútbol a sol y sombra (Soccer in Sun and Shadow), 1995
"Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that."
—Bill Shankly, legendary ex-manager of Liverpool FC
"During the final game, after scoring the winning goal, Brandie Chastain dropped to her knees and peeled her shirt off. Since this was a soccer game, and a women's soccer game at that, the chances that any heterosexual males over the age of 10 were watching are mind-bogglingly low...It's the kids though that suffered the most. Soccer moms were mortified that there innocent little boys were exposed to such filth. In the mind of a soccer mom, this was outright porn! She might as well have been standing there ass naked, with somebody's recently expended load drizzling out of her mouth. Now, not even soccer moms would allow their children to watch any international soccer what-so-ever, for fear that next they might be witness to some Brit ass-pounding a Spice Girl to celebrate a goal."
"It was beautiful, and therefore true, and therefore any rule that did not allow him to do it would be a bad rule."
—Many, if not all Latin-American Spanish (and Brazilian Portuguese) language sportscasters anytime a goal is scored (which isn't oftennote ).
¡¡GOLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAZO!! ¡GOLAZO, GOLAZO, GOLAZO, GOLAZO!note ''
—Pablo Ramirez of the Univision group of networks, whenever a particularly impressive goalnote is scored .
Soccer is also commonly known as football, Canadian baseball, American football, violent jogging, and World War II.
— "Capital Campaign", Welcome to Night Vale