World Cup: Learn More About Soccer

foot and soccer ball
Source: cabralgabriel, Flickr

Do you love soccer? Do you even understand soccer? I don't much. And that's OK, I guess. It’s only the most popular game on the planet.

I've been watching World Cup soccer since I was 16, and I am no spring chicken, but what seems to hook me in more than the technical aspects of the sport or who wins is learning just how strange and intriguing our world can be.

Many dramas unfold during the three-week tournament, which happens once every four years. See which nation has the wackiest fans, which players pretend to know their national anthem or which team does the most headbutting. And could it be true one team was forbidden to eat chicken during finals for fear of bad luck?

Sure, you can't understand an entire nation by watching the World Cup, but, after watching Cameroon play Mexico, you might just decide to strike up a conversation with your Cameroonian neighbor, or finally watch those foreign flicks that seemed so boring.

Check out these books to learn what a hat trick is, the difference between a red and yellow card, or why Brazilians play such a beautiful game:

Eight World Cups: My Journey Through The Beauty And Dark Side Of Soccer: Sports columnist Vecsey explains the history and culture of the World Cup through its last eight tournaments. Written with depth and humor, this title is for the devoted soccer fan and a newcomer to the sport.

Soccer in Sun and Shadow: Uruguayan author Eduardo Galeano has written a beautiful book to complement this most beautiful game. He covers soccer's history from its Chinese origins to the current commercialization of the sport.

World Cup of Soccer: This is a must-have World Cup reference book. Check out this one for statistics, player profiles and other facts starting with the first World Cup in Uruguay in 1930.