A Brief History
Many newcomers to soccer attribute its kickoff in America to Pele's signing with the Cosmos for 3 years and $3.5 million in 1975-admittedly a dramatic event that captured the attention of the world's sporting community. Soccer has been around in America for over 200 years. It was brought over by English colonists, played more formally and rather brutally by colleges starting in the mid-1800s (Princeton and Rutgers played an inaugural intercollegiate match in 1869), and then given strong impetus, at least in our northeastern urban areas, by the waves of immigrants who brought their culture, including soccer, with them. So there is a history of soccer in America, one that is interconnected with the lives of working-class people, but it remains for the most part undocumented. With the new interest in social and working-class history, perhaps soccer's link with its ethnic roots will unfold. The International Culture of Soccer
Soccer in many countries cannot be understood apart from the country's culture, traditions, class structure, geography, and values. Soccer reflects a nation's culture because it permeates all levels of a society. There are probably climatic reasons why South Americans in their warm climate play at a different pace than the English, who play right through the winter and have to keep running to combat the cold. Brazilian soccer, so well documented by Janet Lever (1983) in Soccer Madness, is "alegre," soccer to a Samba beat-joyous, unpredictable, spontaneous, "poetry and motion." England's "Dunkirk style" is tenacious, with hard tackling, fairness, and a "let's-get-the-job-done" attitude. West Germany's highly disciplined, mechanistic, orderly "systems soccer" was called by Pele on TV in 1982 "ten robots alongside Rummenigge" (Europe's "player of the year"). The superbly conditioned Soviets engage in "technical soccer," by the book, but often fail against the flamboyant South Americans and the gritty, determined English....
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