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Simon Kuper: Spartak Moscow, 10 June 2010

Spartak Moscow: A History of the People’s Team in the Workers’ State 
by Robert Edelman.
Cornell, 346 pp., £21.95, January 2010, 978 0 8014 4742 6
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... One night in 1942, Nikolai Starostin, founder of the Spartak Moscow football club, woke to find a torch shining in his eyes and two pistols pointed at his head. He had spent years waiting for his arrest; Lavrenty Beria, head of Stalin’s secret police and director of Dinamo Moscow football club, did not like him. He was taken to the Lubianka for long interrogations ...

Carry on up the Corner Flag

R.W. Johnson: The sociology of football, 24 July 2003

Ajax, the Dutch, the War: Football in Europe during the Second World War 
by Simon Kuper.
Orion, 244 pp., £14.99, January 2003, 0 7528 5149 7
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Broken Dreams: Vanity, Greed and the Souring of British Football 
by Tom Bower.
Simon and Schuster, 342 pp., £17.99, February 2003, 9780743220798
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... Brought up Jewish and soccer-loving in the Netherlands, Simon Kuper has come to realise that he accepted too easily the myth of Dutch wartime heroism. The result is a long litany of hurt feelings, awkwardly transposed onto the world of soccer. He starts with a snapshot of interwar football, when international encounters were still few and English players enjoyed such unquestioned primacy that one German soccer writer referred to them as ‘a sort of Übermenschen ...

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