Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Rapid-Fire Book Club: Wait, I'm Seriously Doing This Two Days In A Row? Edition

Apparently I am. You see, since my birthday falls on a work day, we opted to have the birthday party today. Of course, a birthday doesn't have quite the present quantity as Christmas does, particularly when your birthday comes less than a month after Christmas, as mine does. Typically, what happens with me is a present or two from my Christmas list gets held over for my birthday, and this year was no exception... because the present in question was late in shipping. Because it didn't make it in time for Christmas, hey, might as well hold it over.

The present, of course, is a book: Outcasts! The Lands That FIFA Forgot by Steve Menary. Because more soccer books. More, I say. More!

The idea here is, FIFA has more members than the United Nations. However, the idea of being a national entity is kind of murky. When you get right down to it, being a country comes down largely to getting everyone else to agree with you that you're a country. Most of the places we hear about, their status as a nation isn't really in question. The United States is a country, France is a country, Germany is a country, Japan is a country, and so on. But work your way far enough down the list, and eventually you're going to reach some places where you go '...well... I don't know...', if not a flat no. If I asked you whether, for instance, Hong Kong is a country, I'd wager some of you would have to think about that one at least a little bit. And it might not be a reflexive answer over the status of Guam, or Gibraltar, or Somalia either. At some point, though, international organizations such as the UN, or FIFA, have to come down with either a yes or a no. You're either in or you're not. Some places get in everywhere, others don't get in anywhere, and others get into some places but not others. You might be in FIFA but not the UN (ex. the Faroe Islands, Anguilla); you might be in the UN but not FIFA (ex. Vatican City, Monaco). For places sitting along that fringe, getting that recognition is a big deal- the more recognition, the better. Any organization will do.

Outcasts! concerns itself with places where FIFA, at least, has come down as a no, or at least places that haven't made much of an effort to become part of FIFA for whatever reason. Greenland, for example, or Tibet, or Northern Cyprus. Or Kosovo, which is actually happy that FIFA has just a few days ago permitted them to begin playing friendly matches against FIFA-affiliated clubs and countries on condition that they not fly their flag or national livery, play their national anthem, or play anyone from the former Yugoslavia. They just want to play. They want that recognition. They want that respect.

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