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From the English businessmen who founded the club, through Cruyff, Maradona, Lineker, Venables, Robson and Ronaldo, FC Barcelona, European football giant and quintessential embodiment of Catalonian pride, has been built on the efforts of foreign mercenaries.
In interview and analysis, Jimmy Burns uses the experiences of these outsiders as his own passport to the heart of the Camp Nou, returning with a hugely enjoyable history of the team and it's fanatically nationalistic support.
Unique amongst the world's biggest clubs, Barcelona has stayed true to it's origins as a quasi-democratic institution. It is effectively a private members club, made up of the 120,000 supporters whose subscriptions bankroll the team, but a sense of ownership extends across Catalonia itself.
At the heart of the book is the struggle for this unique identity to survive the commercial colonisation of the sport.
Burns is a sensitive and intelligent interpreter of what is becoming, for better and worse, a forgotten language of regional tribalism in football. It may not be many years before his study of this enigmatic club is regarded as a definitive memorial to the last great love affair of what was once a people's passion. --Alex Hankin [via]