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FOOTBALL | BOOK REVIEW

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JEAN-PHILLIPE FOOTBALL

Jean-Phillippe Toussaint (Fitzcarraldo Editions)

Belgian writer Toussaint begins with a self-effacing disclaimer: that this compendium of intellectually-minded essays about football will be a turnoff to both intellectuals and football buffs. This isn’t necessarily true (wonderful, deep things have been written about the sport over the decades), but I was largely left unmoved by his musings. Chronicling his visits to the last four World Cups, Toussaint’s turns of phrase – translated from French – are exquisite, but his thoughts on football culture are largely jejune and unremarkable. (Exception: an essay on Zinedine Zidane’s infamous 2006 WC final red card, whose circumstances were so theatrical as to transcend their context.) Also, contrary to his assertion of “indisputability”, he’s the only person I’ve ever heard claim that the World Cup trophy looks like a wang.

Price: £12.99 paperback. Info: www.fitzcarraldoeditions.com

words NOEL GARDNER

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