There are few things that unify people across the world better than the game of football. More than just kicking a ball about, football stirs passions beyond rational thought, affecting the mood of a nation or even the fortunes of a government. Since the 1930s various members of Magnum have photographed the world of football, documenting the teams, the supporters and the game, from barefeet on African mud or a Brazilian beach to kicking cans in the backstreets of Newcastle. This collection shows how deep the roots of football run and how wide they are spread, how football culture crosses every boundary of nationality, race and religion, how it throws up important social issues such as the empowerment of women through football in Iran and the bitter religious rivalry between Glasgow's two teams Rangers and Celtic. This portfolio of images combines the beauty of the game itself with the aesthetic quality associated with the photographers of Magnum and provides a celebration of the 'world game' as well as a fascinating social portrait of the world over a period of more than half a century
Simon Kuper writes a regular sports column for the Observer and is the author of Football Against the Enemy, which won the William Hill Sports Book of the Year award in 1994.