Interview with David Goldblatt: Football's Warrior Poet
Updated: Jan 21, 2019
Today, I am joined by sociologist turned author turned podcaster, David Goldblatt. David is the best-selling author of the classic book, The Ball is Round which was described as the "seminal football history" by Simon Kuper.
In addition to that book, he's written The Games: A Global History of the Olympics, Futebol Nation: A Footballing History of Brazil, and The Game of Our Lives: The Meaning and Making of English Football.
Game of Our Lives is also the name of his podcast series which is well worth a listen. Much like his books, in that podcast he focuses on the social, political and economic factors present in the game.
He's also been a sociology professor at the Open University, Bristol University and Pitzer College in the US.
He's also done numerous audio documentaries from around the world for the BBC. Needless to say, he's a multitalented guy and having him on the show was a real treat.
He touches on so many topics in this episode, from Ghanian textile artists to the thievery of Messi and Ronaldo. It's a tour de force on David's part, and well I didn't have to do much. I pretty much just shut up and let him talk.
This was one of my favorite episodes and I hope you'll agree. If you want to reach out to David and let him know what you think of the episode his Twitter is @Davidsgoldblatt.
3:15 His book writing process
14:57 His love of Arabic commentary
22:35 Who are the winners and losers of the globalization of football
30:05 Oligarchs in football
41:39 Falling in love with football
50:53 Going from writer to audio documentarian
59:55 His thoughts on podcasts and Game of Our Lives
1:10:45 Who/what he reads
"I have watched for example every closing ceremony of every World Cup...Because symbolic power is incredibly important, people are spending What do you think people are spending 13 billion dollars to stage the World Cup and don't think there is symbolic significance or political organization in place?"
"Sure everybody loves Latin American commentary but have you been listening to Arabic commentary? It is wild."
"The Barcelona thing is really huge and it takes on more than kind of just football love - in that for the Kurds and for the Palestinians, Catalonia and its relationship with Barcelona and notions of kind of Independence of you know hidden nations."
"It's interesting you know now that of course Barcelona's relationship with Qatar brought a whole new dimension to it. So that when the Saudi's and the UAE impose their boycott on Qatar, it became a criminal offence to wear a Barcelona shirt with Qatar Airways."
"But even then you would say, 'okay but who has benefited? Nobody has made any profit. There has been loads of bankruptcies, enormous amount of tax evasion. You know you have killed the atmosphere half of the time in a lot of the stadiums, and basically about 5,000 people have made a lot of money out of this plus the Bentley dealers in Britain.
"I personally think that any of the teams that won the Champions League in the last decade, they’d eat the rest of football for fucking breakfast."
"There is not a country in the world where you can't list a group of carpetbagging, thieving, lying super rich oligarchs who have not going to football."
If you like this episode, you should like my episode with writer Michael Calvin.