Several readers have asked me to share recommendations of what gift ideas would be perfect for soccer fans this time of the year, especially those who follow English Premier League teams, so here are 9 great holiday gifts for you, or for the soccer fan in your life.
Editor’s note: I included a variety of different gift suggestions based on the type of present but also a variety of prices, from stocking stuffer ideas to higher priced items.
1. “Foul! The Secret World Of FIFA: Bribes, Vote Rigging and Ticket Scandals.” Judging by the title, you would have thought that Andrew Jennings‘s explosive book about FIFA would have been written and published in 2010. Except that “Foul! The Secret World Of FIFA” was published in 2006. Glad to see that FIFA has made some positive steps to correct things. Not! Without getting too political, the book is a must-read for soccer fans who are curious about what goes on inside FIFA’s extravagant headquarters in Switzerland, as well as the evidence that reveals how corrupt many of its committee members are including sadly some who are still in power. The book has been so popular than it’s now out of print and only used copies are available, but the book is worth every penny.
Foul! The Secret World Of FIFA, Amazon.com, From $20
2. Football Manager 2011. Few soccer simulation games are as exhaustingly accurate as the king of all football games, Football Manager. The latest version adds several exciting enhancements to the classic soccer game which thrusts you inside the world of a football manager. Get a feel for what life is like for a Jose Mourinho, Arsene Wenger or Chris Hughton. Or start in a different or lower league and try to rise to the top of the Premier League. It may give you a better appreciation for how tough a gaffer’s job is. Read EPL Talk’s review of Football Manager 2011. And watch a video of Football Manager 2011.
Football Manager 2011, Amazon.com, $39.95
3. FIFA 11. The number of people raving about FIFA 11 the past two months has been deafening. And yes, it’s that good. Improved graphics and gameplay make this the leader in soccer video games. The best word to describe FIFA 11 is authenticity. The game exudes an authentic version of reality by providing new features such as the ability to control the goalkeeper, 360 degree dribbling (watch out Samir Nasri) and much much more. Read EPL Talk’s reviews of FIFA 11 here and here.
FIFA 11, Amazon.com, $39.99
4. The Two Escobars. I’ll never forget how incredible ESPN’s coverage of the 2010 World Cup was. The US broadcaster pulled out all of the stops to create a dream-come-true for soccer fans in the States. Better yet, ESPN was responsible for a fascinating documentary entitled The Two Escobars, which painstakingly charted the tragic story of Colombian soccer star Andres Escobar who was killed shortly after scoring an own goal against the United States in the 1994 World Cup. The film also chronicles the story of the other Escobar, Pablo; no relation, and the parallels in his life and how the drug lord used soccer to help the communities and soccer team in Colombia. Bonus features on this new recently released DVD include directors statements, deleted scenes and The Other Side featurette, which tells the story from the perspective of the US Soccer Team at the 1994 World Cup.
The Two Escobars, Amazon.com, $19
5. Premier League jerseys for your favorite club. No soccer fan’s collection is complete without a jersey for his or her favorite Premier League club. And luckily this season, most of them are really well designed. Several of the clubs have gone all retro on us, while some clubs (Everton) went for a hot pink away jersey. Whichever is your club, browse through the selection of Premier League jerseys in the EPL Talk Shop which has the widest selection of Premier League jerseys this side of the Atlantic.
Premier League shirts, EPLTalk.com/shop, From $69 – epltalk.com/shop
6. Book a flight to England aboard Virgin Atlantic to see a Premier League match in person. What better gift could you imagine for you or your loved one than a flight aboard the luxurious (and good value for the money) Virgin Atlantic? My favorite airline in the world flys to London Heathrow, London Gatwick and Manchester. And best of all, Virgin is offering great deals between now and the end of the Premier League season. Arm yourself with the free Premier League travel guide from EPL Talk on how to save on hotels and transportation while you’re in the UK (as well as how to get match tickets), reference the Premier League schedule and then browse to see what flights are available from Virgin.
Virgin Atlantic plane ticket, Virgin-Atlantic.com, Prices differ by location
7. Victory. One of the best movies about soccer, better known in Britain as Escape To Victory, features an incredible all-star cast including Pele, Sylvester Stallone, Bobby Moore, Michael Caine, Ossie Ardiles, Max Von Sydow and many others. The fictional story is set in World War II, where a group of Nazi officers come up with a propaganda event in which an all star Nazi team will play a team composed of Allied Prisoners of War in a soccer game. The Prisoners agree, planning on using the game as a means of escape from the camp. And the goal to win the match is a peach. Great stocking stuffer.
Victory, Amazon.com, $6
8. 2011 Premier League calendars. I’ve discovered a collection of 2011 calendars for sale for several Premier League clubs including Arsenal, Aston Villa, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea, Manchester United, Everton, Fulham, Liverpool, Man City and Newcastle United. A couple of the clubs offer desk calendars as well as wall calendars. And the quality looks very decent. Whether you keep calendars at home or at work, they’re a perfect way to show your team pride
2011 Premier League club calendars, WorldSoccerShop.com, $15
9. Kindle. Shh, don’t tell anyone, but there are several brilliant soccer books available that you can read on a brand-new Kindle. On a recent trip, instead of bringing hefty books with me, I brought my trusty Kindle and downloaded several books via the Wireless feature on the device. I’m currently ploughing through The Ball Is Round, just finished How Soccer Explains The World and recently read Soccernomics on the Kindle. I’m also planning on buying the new book by Paul Tomkins entitled Pay As You Play: The True Price of Success in the Premier League Era, which is available on the Kindle.
Kindle, Amazon.com, $139
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