History of the World in 12 Football Matches

«History of the World in 12 Football Matches» is a collective epic of wars, revolutions, economic crises and social transformations told through the filter of a football. A gallery of forgotten encounters, unexpected heroes, thwarted tragedies and incredible results within which we can recognise a reflection of the events that have shaped the world as we know it today.

Since its inception, football’s destiny has been to intersect with great history. Sometimes it has happened during an anonymous match, sometimes in a live world final, yet from time immemorial an echo of what happened off the pitch has reached, in even unthinkable ways, the playing field; and vice versa. From Matthias Sindelar, who left the national team after the Anschluss, to Viktor Ponedel’nik, who took the Soviet Union to the roof of Europe, in these pages Stefano Bizzotto stitches together the great historical events and the matches that in some way anticipated, suffered or synthesised them. As in the case of Dinamo Zagreb-Red Star Belgrade, when clashes between fans and police made it clear that Yugoslavia was about to split in blood. Or Chile-USSR in 1973, when an empty-goal goal, scored in the same stadium where political opponents were tortured and killed every day, summed up the absurd cruelty of the Pinochet regime.

Alternating between unpublished curiosities and first-hand accounts from the protagonists, this work induces us to look at our past and present from a new point of view. Because, beyond what we may think, sometimes history happens while someone, somewhere, is kicking a ball around.