One good barometer of the state of football in any country is the spread and quality of available football literature.
On this measure, Italy
is doing well but still has room for improvement.
An average bookstore in Italy
carries more football lit now than it did five years ago, but the literature is heavily stacked towards club histories and histories of the Azzurri.
The business side of things gets the odd bit of coverage (see Il business del calcio
, by Umberto Lago et. al), but as far as a more literary approach to things, they have yet to find their own Nick Hornby (whose book Febbre al 90’ Minuto
is carried virtually everywhere).
Dirt-digging is done in the daily press, not in monographs– the closest thing to a book calling for serious renewal (Antonio Maglie’s La Disfatta
) talked more about team finances than the rather more obvious topics of doping and bribery.
I haven’t had a chance to head into a French bookstore lately, but I did recently manage to get my hands on a copy of So Foot. Now France has always had a decent sporting press – the twice-weekly France Football is the equal of virtually any English monthly – but So Foot is a step ahead of anything else in Europe with the possible exception of When Saturday Comes. Intelligent, funny, glossy and global, it is everything a football magazine should be. Get your hands on a copy as soon as you can.
Back here in North America the magazine scene is pretty dire, but things are looking up on bookshelves – football books take up an ever-increasing amount of shelving in the main bookstores. Who knows? Maybe one day it won’t be necessary to introduce new Toronto FC coach Mo Johnston as “the Wayne Gretzky” of Scottish football…