What in the world has the power to liberate women in Iran while provoking antagonism between Catholics and Protestants in Scotland, to lure Nigerians to the cold of the Ukraine while heating up class warfare in the US heartlands, and both profit local gangsters and create local - and international - celebrities?
Foer presents an unexpected, uniquely revealing tour of the politics and culture of football from Milan to Tehran. He examines the game's role in sustaining ancient hatreds and rivalries (Serbia's Red Star and Croatia's Dinamo); in supporting the migration of players and the rise of the football oligarchs (such as Silvio Berlusconi, President of AC Milan - and of Italy); and in defending the virtues and vices of old-fashioned nationalism. As Foer brilliantly illuminates, the Balkan War, anti-Semitism, Jewish identity, racism, social integration, media manipulation, and American patriotism have all been influenced by, as well as have had a dramatic effect on, football.
On his travels, Foer encounters a collection of fans that is stranger than fiction: from a British hooligan with a Jewish mother, a Nazi father and a career as a soldier of fortune, to a fan club in Serbia that turns into a brutal anti-Muslim paramilitary unit. The result is an unforgettable parade of uniquely memorable fans - each set into his - or her - unique political and cultural context.