The World Cup is upon us, and whether this is your first or fortieth year of watching the world’s greatest tournament, each one has its own unique story. Certainly this one in the winter and in Qatar is historic, but also complicated and controversial.
To help the casual soccer fan navigate the Qatar World Cup, I compiled a reading list of current and past books. This selection is not just a list of the best recently released books about World Cup 2022, although there are many of those. Rather, think of it as the book version of a carefully curated wine and cheese pairing, with each book a flavor designed to entice a reaction or understanding based on its pairing.
World Cup 2022 reading list
World Cup history important to know for 2022
- How to Win the World Cup by Chris Evans.
This new book released in time for Qatar 2022 examines the role of the manager in the World Cup. What makes a successful World Cup manager? Of course the answer is, “it depends” but Evans does a good job explaining how managers can find success in the weird set-up that is international soccer.
- Soccer Travels: One Man. One Journal. One Beautiful Game by Drew Farmer.
The author writes a travel journal about his visits to different cities and his reflection on how modern society impacts soccer today. His descriptions about getting around Qatar – pre-build up – is definitely worth a read.
- Dark Goals by Luciano Wernicke.
The World Cup and FIFA are corrupt, this is nothing shocking. What may be shocking is just how corrupt. Wernicke’s new book details the history of government interference in the world’s biggest event from the beginning with a level of research impressive and scary.
- Soccernomics (2022 edition) by Simon Kuper and Stefan Syzmanski.
This book is like The Emerging Majority for soccer fans – read it at a surface level and it is easy to nitpick the conclusions of the authors. Read it and consider it and you’ll understand more deeply why the World Cup (and modern soccer) is what it is today.
Learning about specific Qatar controversies
- The Ugly Game: The Corruption at FIFA and the Qatari Plot to Buy the World Cup by Heidi Blake and Jonathan Culvert.
Written seven years ago, this book is still one of the best deep dives into Qatar’s bid for 2022. The book is based on articles in The Sunday Times shedding a light on the corruption with the bidding process and expanded to book form.
- The Away Game: The Epic Search for Soccer’s Next Superstars by Sebastian Abbot.
One of the most important soccer books written in the past decade, Abbot’s book focuses primarily on the impact of mining African soccer clubs for talent to exploit in Europe. The role of Qatar, however, is critical to see how the kingdom tried to boost its team ahead of 2022.
- Football in the Middle East by Abdullah Al-Arian.
This collection of essays is a little more academic than most of these books but it is a good book to have if you want a very deep dive into the culture and history of soccer in the Middle East.
US fan specific reading
- New Kids in the World Cup by Adam Elder.
I just wrote a review of this new book and it is essential reading for U.S. soccer fans to see how far we’ve come as a soccer nation in 30 years.
- My Journey So Far by Christian Pulisic.
You can question the wisdom of publishing an autobiography in your 20s, but if you want to understand America’s biggest name, this is your book. An added bonus is beautiful photos and some controversial statements about Thomas Tuchel.
PHOTO: IMAGO / Action Plus
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