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The Soccer Tribe By Desmond Morris

Release date: 29th March, 2019
Publisher: Rizzoli International

List Price: £18.99
Our Price: £12.98
You Save: £6.01 (31%)
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Fourteen years after writing The Naked Ape, later translated into 23 languages, Desmond Morris wrote an equally fascinating, though less popular, book about football, The Soccer Tribe.

In many respects, the Tribe was a more detailed version of Naked Ape, examining the behaviour of everyone associated with the beautiful game, from ‘Elders’ (directors, referees, managers and trainers) to ‘Followers’ (supporters of every age).

Several themes put forward in Morris’s 1967 book, which depicted human behaviour as evolving to meet the challenges of prehistoric life, were developed in The Soccer Tribe.

Morris explained this development, saying he was motivated by anthropological curiosity: “Hardly anyone seems to query the importance attached to the game. For those who do the kicking and those who watch it so avidly, the whole matter is taken for granted. Football is football, and of course it is fascinating, so what is there to question? For those who ignore it, it is plainly a stupid waste of time, so why bother with it? It is not worth discussing. Both sides overlook the fact that, viewed objectively, it is one of the strangest patterns of human behaviour to be seen in the whole of modern society.”

Many of the book’s original illustrations have been updated (some text has too) and there’s a fascinating foreword written by Jose Mourinho, who tells us that: “Total football has led to global football—on and off the field. And whoever fails to realise it doesn’t understand anything. Those who only know football know nothing about football.”

A raft of pseudo-psychologists have reviewed The Soccer Tribe, presumably with the intention of rubbishing it, yet almost 40 years since it was first published, Morris’s arguments, especially those relating to the game’s rituals, its tribesmen and trappings continue to demand attention.

Much has been written about football culture since The Soccer Tribe first appeared, mostly in fanzines, but nothing as comprehensive as Morris’s sterling effort. That a publisher is still prepared to publish what is, in effect, an academic work about football says much about the game’s appeal, as well as the continued quality and accuracy of Morris’s evolutionary theories.

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