The Soccer Literature Quick Pick – Soccer in the Sun and Shadows by Eduardo Galeano
It’s not often that your non-soccer friends offer up astonishing soccer reading advice, but just a few weeks ago, that happened to me. “Graham” Cory said as we sat on his couch watching an old show, “I have a book you need to read. It was the first book to make me understand why people all over the world love and enjoy soccer.”
Two weeks later he remembered which pile the book was buried under, and handed me a tattered, green, paperback book written by a Uruguayan man named Eduardo Galeano.
Inside this magnificent book, Eduardo explores the good and bad. The sun and shadows. The dark and light of soccer that manifest on and off the field. From the beauty and joy that spring forth from pure soccer light, to the darkness that oozes forth from global soccer marketing, greed, lust, and unbridled exploitation.
Eduardo sums up the whole of soccer in hundreds of short, sparkling, lyrical essays. Each position, each major organization, and hundreds of huge soccer goals remembered in hundreds of different ways.
Players and moments you may not have heard of but won’t soon forget.
The goal scored in a supermarket.
The referee given a round of sympathetic applause for a death in the family and then mocked after the first call.
The loneliness of the goalkeeper.
The soccer players who refused to wear advertisements on their jersey because they had escaped the bonds of slavery once before.
The anger and joy of the supporters.
Eduardo Galeano is watching and waiting inside his book. A man without a team, a man who will watch anyone play soccer, a man praying for the one glorious moment when the soldiers on the pitch break free from their regiment and instead of marching, dance. The moment they rejected their training and orders and revert to a moment of childhood excitement, do what they shouldn’t, and light up the shadows with a brilliant moment that brings even the drunkest fan to their feet.
Galeano wants you to see through his eyes.