Now that Russia and Qatar have been named to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, we get a better sense of the worldwide appeal of the sport. The fact that officials bestowed the honor on Qatar -- a country with little soccer success, little soccer infrastructure and a footprint smaller than my home state of Connecticut -- illustrates the sport's huge economic promise. The once-every-four-years tournament can cause stadiums and hotels to blossom, and fans to flock to an obscure nation.
To read more about soccer's global appeal, here are a few interesting books that you might consider:
-- Soccernomics: Why England Loses, Why Germany and Brazil Win, and Why the U.S., Japan, Australia, Turkey--and Even Iraq--Are Destined to Become the Kings of the World's Most Popular Sport, by Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski
-- The Ball is Round: A Global History of Soccer by David Goldblatt.
-- How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization by Franklin Foer