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“Balkan Football Club”, the new book by Gianni Galleri in bookstores

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“Balkan Football Club”, the new book by Gianni Galleri in bookstores

Balkan Football Club, a trip to the Balkans through football magnifying glass
The new book by Gianni Galleri in bookstore from 6 March 2024

Arrives in bookstores on March 6, 2024 the new book by Gianni Galleri titledBalkan Football Club. Daring journey in search of utopias and wrong penalties(Bottega Errante Edizioni).

Balkan Football Club was born from ten years of travels between Bulgaria, Romania, Albania and the former Yugoslavia on the trail of little-known events and episodes that have made the history – not just football – of these lands.

From the Marakana of Belgrade to the concrete utopias of monument Yugoslavs, from the Maksimir of Zagreb to the shores of Lake Ohrid, without generalizations or stereotypes, immersing themselves among the people, entering the bars, along the streets, on the steps of many stadiums around the Balkans.

A journey from the Adriatic to the Black Sea, along the Danube and the Drinaamong old friends and gruff fans, beers and choirs, kebabs e brandyper try to decipher the Balkans through the magnifying glass of football.

Balkan Football Club it is a book made of places, streets, stadiums, meetings, football communities, taverns of Romania, Bulgaria, Albania and that complicated thing that was once Yugoslavia.

Gianni Galleri, already author of several books on football in the Balkans and curator of the “Curva Est” page (with 10,000 followers), uses football as a common thread in his travels because «football And aggregation, identity, belonging. In his own way he tells us a lot about these lands. He talks to us, for example, about the time that has passed, the history that has changed. He does it with great naturalness, because everyone talks about football with a stranger, but it is more difficult to talk about politics or other more personal aspects of their lives».

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In such complex and multifaceted territories, football can become a mirror of society and, as Gianni Galleri explains to us, «it is one of the most faithful mirrors, because in the stands of a stadium many masks fall off and one is often more sincere and transparent. It’s something I’ve always thoughtthe stands exactly replicate the dynamics of society outside the stadiums, they are not separate worlds, but close, with continuous exchanges: what happens outside is repeated inside and vice versa. Sometimes football is just a preview of what will be found months or years later in the streets.”

«Much has been written about football in Yugoslavia»– says Gianni Galleri – ma «Romania, Bulgaria and Albania do not have literature on the subject and this is a new element of the book. In the pages of Balkan Football Club we talk about well-known realities (the capitals, the most important cities, the most famous teams), but also about small, less well-known stories, because in the end the epic of football is not only found in those who win and make history, but also in the smallest and most down-at-heel teams. These too are important for someone, they are the center of the life of a community.”

Football in the Balkans as in the former GDR has often taken on political connotations and has been, as Gianni Galleri explains, «an excellent tool for achieving political goals and the examples are many: the rise of nationalism in the Yugoslavian curves, the role of the ultras in the militias of the Balkan warsthe fire at the Željezničar stadium in Sarajevo. But there are not only negative examples, there are also more uplifting stories, like some realities that are fighting to overcome ethnic divisionsfor example the curve of the Sloboda Tuzla or the Velež Mostar”.

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Balkan Football Club And first of all a travel bookwhich in addition to football tells us «many other things whywhen you travel it is impossible not to get lost in a multitude of stimuli. I am a very curious person, so I like to delve into even seemingly marginal aspects. In the book there are monumentthese incredible monuments with such particular aesthetics in our eyes. The first time I saw one I was amazed by its size and expressive power. There are also many excellent dishes, tried in some remote tavern, always accompanied by an ice-cold beer and a nice sip of brandythe traditional local grappa. I really like eating and drinking, and I think that the table tells a lot about a place and therefore is an integral part of a journey.”

GIANNI GALLERI A Tuscan who works in Rome, he is a great travel enthusiast and believes that football is one of the best ways to truly get to know a place. Already the author of several reports, he has active collaborations with many Italian sports newspapers and sites. He has made podcasts and documentaries on typhoid in Eastern Europe and the Balkans. More than the Champions League, he is moved by the smell of smoke bombs in a remote suburban stadium. He published The city of football; East Curve; This is my place (Urbone Publishing), Pasic. Predrag defends Sarajevo (Garrincha Editions).

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