This handy football primer, produced by Tifo the YouTube channel, is designed to help everyone understand what is happening both on and off the pitch.
From ‘don’t watch the ball’ and ‘why corners are less effective than you think’, to ‘how transfer fees can be misleading’ and ‘how to spot sportswashing’, these are Tifo’s fifty-two rules.
Football is about so many things. It’s about stars, goals, and glory but also about intense calculations and movements. It’s about the fans and player psychology. It’s about the coach, the club owner, the director of football. It’s about money and data, about geopolitics and architecture, and even about climate change.
Whatever your knowledge or experience of football you will learn something new from the book. The primer debunks many accepted beliefs and myths and provides plenty of new thinking.
You will learn about different styles of play, about Catenaccio, Tiki-Taka, and Total Football. You will learn about some of the greatest players and coaches, some well-known such as Herbert Chapman, Johan Cruyff and George Weah and some less so, such as Jimmy Hogan, Valeriy Lobanovskyi and Amr Fahmy.
You will discover the half-space, that pass completion doesn’t matter and that more defenders don’t necessarily mean more defensive. You will learn about XG – football’s expected goals metric. You will learn about Fan Ownership and the 50+1 rule and of the devastating impact of the climate crisis.
It’s an extremely compelling climate message in a football context. “There are currently ninety-two league teams in England. By 2050, twenty-three of them expect partial or total annual flooding of their stadiums.”
“Of those twenty-three British stadiums exposed to flooding by 2050, the Cardiff City and KCOM Stadiums will be both entirely underwater, Grimsby’s Blundell Park will be in the North Sea, while the Riverside Stadium in Middlesbrough will only be accessible by boat. In the Premier League, Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge and West Ham’s London Stadium will experience flooding on an annual basis, as will Southampton’s St Mary’s.”
There’s some great statistics for football fanatics to impress their friends, such as “Since 2010, only 3% of the corners taken in Europe’s top five leagues have resulted in a goal.”
And “In an average football game, an average football player will get 4.6% of the total touches on the ball. That equates to about sixty touches per game in a recent Premier League season. It follows that, for close to 86 minutes of the game, most players are without the ball.”
There are excellent illustrations which enhance the text and encourage further reading or further viewing in the case of the Tifo YouTube channel. This easy-to-read primer is thoroughly recommended for existing football fans and for those wanting an introduction to the game.
How To Watch Football – 52 Rules for Understanding the Beautiful Game, On and Off the Pitch by Tifo. Published by Particular Books. Price £ 10.99.
This review first appeared in the January 2023 edition of Late Tackle magazine.