May 8, 2015
By Michael Lewis
Clive doesn't Toye around in his latest book, 'Anywhere In The World
Most of the soccer world knows and probably only knows Clive Toye as the Cosmos president who signed Pele to that historic contract in 1975.
That certainly is one historic accomplishment that we are still feeling the positive effects in 2015.
But before Clive Toye became that Clive Toye, soccer executive, he was a sportswriter, a pretty damn good one, for that matter for the Daily Express in London, England.
So, he can put together a few words and make them sing, which he does in his second and latest book "Anywhere In The World" (Saint Johann Press, 184 pages, $22.50.
In his first tome in modern times, "A Kick In the Grass" (2006), Toye wrote about his North American Soccer League remembrances. In this one, everything under the soccer sun is his target, whether it is domestic or international.
The octogenarian does not leave much in the sport unturned in his latest memoirs, skewering just about everything in his path, including and not just limited to FIFA, the international game, Major League Soccer, club soccer, and the media, whether it is with wit, sarcasm, opinion or humor.
Toye's book takes us through the reasons why he decided to leave the most desired job of English sports journalism for a gamble at starting a sport that was unknown to the American sporting masses.
He spotlights a number of personalities -- some of you who are quite familiar -- this chap named Pele comes to mind. And some you probably did not hear of until this review -- ie. Bill Cox, whose foray as a big-time soccer promoter some five decades ago laid the groundwork for the North American Soccer League.
Toye also mixes the time he covered soccer -- domestically and internationally for the Daily Express with his experiences as league and team executive in the states, plus travels around the world, whether he serving with the British military, making his rounds trying to sign players or just on holiday.
His travel itinerary literally follows the title of the book, as begins in England, takes the reader to several points west in the United States and then just about anywhere in the world, from Europe, South America, North America, Africa and Asia.
He wails about how the sport has changed from being sport into a mega-business. He also relates the time to he had explain what the World Cup was all about to a Kansas City official in 1969, how he hit his head against the wall dealing with New York City about changing the dates of local World Cup matches at USA '94 and his take on one Mr. David Beckham, among other things.
Toye doesn't take many if any prisoners and he doesn't seem to be a fan of MLS, or at least the philosophy at the top, remembering a conversation with league commissioner Don Garber.
Here is what Toye had to say:
Maybe it is because there are two distinct ways of looking at sport. Don Garber, the boss of Major League Soccer once said to me: "We have to work on improving the entertainment."
"No," I replied. "Soccer is not entertainment, it is passion."
We have not spoken since.
In the back of the book there are two appendices from the North American Soccer League and U.S. Soccer Football Association that give some great background and history on the origins of the modern game in this country. Toye wrote about two other appendices -- C and D – (about the Cosmos announcing they were in business in 1971 and Toye’s proposal to the U.S. government to help establish relations with China) that were not included in the book, at least not in the one that I read.
The book is written with a style that is easy to read and understand, although you might not agree with everything Toye writes. Well, Clive Toye has always been one who has kept some hard-edged opinions and has never been afraid to share them with the world.
Whether you agree with him or not on the various subjects, it is an entertaining read and ride through an amazing career that has encompassed all corners of the globe and then some.