‘Red Wine & Arepas: How Football is Becoming Venezuela’s Religion’ by Jordan Florit (2020)

Usually picking up a book is the start of a journey into a story. This book has been a little different with the actual book coming as the immensely satisfying end of a fascinating and enjoyable process. Author Jordan Florit launched a project on Kickstarter with a view to raising enough just money to fund this self-published book. Along the way he has kept his nearly 200 backers entertained, informed and eagerly anticipating the finished book.

Red Wine & Arepas: How Football is Becoming Venezuela’s Religion is a fascinating examination of Venezuelan football and its broader society. When thinking of South American football, Venezuela is probably the last country that comes to mind – off hand Salomón Rondón was the only Venezuelan player I could even think of. Despite a population 30 million people they have never qualified for a World Cup!

In his own words, Jordan chose Veneuela as his focus for a couple of reasons. Firstly, ‘the people’. Throughout the book, the warmth and kindness of the Venezuelan people shines through as Jordan shares stories from his travels, the games he saw and the people he met.

Secondly, ‘add something positive to the conversation on Venezuela’. Given the vast news coverage of poverty, desperation and corruption, its a real antidote to see the country presented in a different light.

Red Wine & Arepas is comprehensive, well-written and highly readable. I really like the approach chosen of telling the wider story tho of Venezuelan football through chapters that zoom in on specific subjects. Each chapter broadens the overall narrative while telling a fascinating vignette of the country and its football. The book also mixes these broader football stories with Jordan’s own personal travelogue expertly.

A special mention for the fact that Jordan also covers women’s football in the country. It’s an unusual and welcome addition which gives a more complete picture of the role the game plays in Venezuela.

As you read through the book, the central team of football as a religion emerges organically. Jordan clearly has an immense amount of faith that the country will come good, that it has too many good people not to. The faith of the Venezuelan themselves, in their own identity and their football has clearly rubbed off on him.

Jordan has done an incredible job. The book leaves you with a deep appreciation for the country, its culture, its football and its people.

Following the project through Jordan’s regular updates has been a joy. Jordan’s enthusiasm and passion for this project, and life in general, has been infectious. I really look forward to seeing what he does next.

I highly recommend picking up a copy of Red Wine & Arepas. Check out Jordan’s twitter feed @TheFalseLibero to find out how to do so.