Soccer Stories For Your Ears

The best narrative audio about the beautiful game.

There is an abundance of football/soccer podcasts about the world’s most popular sport. Most of them discussion or roundtable style shows that cover news and results around the game.

But of course, the world game is full of great stories too. So, while you wait for ESPN’s new 30 for 30 podcast to feature a soccer story (here’s hoping!), here are a selection of narrative and documentary style podcast episodes that go beyond the football news cycle. Enjoy!

By Association | Foosball

Yes, I’m starting with an episode from my very own podcast. But it is an entire show dedicated to narrative audio about football and the human connection behind the beautiful game. Each monthly episode tells a different story.

So, how much do you know about foosball? Learn about the history and culture of the popular table top game, inspired by football — and a box of matches.

Episode Description: In 1921, with the popularity of football growing rapidly throughout Europe, Englishman, Harold Searles Thornton wanted to create a game that replicated football that people could play in their homes.

Inspiration struck with a box of matches. The matches were lying parallel across the top of the box, extending past the edges. This idea was developed into a tabletop game that plays very similar to its real life counterpart. He called it ‘Foosball’.

99% Invisible | New Jersey

Occasionally, the popular design podcast will cover sports stories, and I love it when they do. This episode is all about the history behind Brazil’s famous Canarinho playing kit. 🇧🇷

Episode Description: The Brazilian soccer shirt is iconic. Its bright canary yellow with green trim, worn with blue shorts, is known worldwide. The uniform is joyful and bold and seems to capture something essential about Brazil. But it was not always this way.

Howler Radio | The Panenka

An excellent podcast from the folks at Howler Magazine, and another show entirely about soccer. The Panenka is one of those quirks of the football world that you wouldn’t expect have much of a story behind them. But believe me, it’s fascinating.

Episode Description: Our intrepid reporter embarks on an epic journey to discover the origins of the Panenka penalty kick — a subtle yet audacious technique that turns players into either heroes or goats.

It’s a quest that him to the fringes of North America’s professional game, a raucous stadium in Ireland, where a cocky journalist makes a fool of himself, and a continental final in Belgrade where the audacious penalty balances significant social and political implications as it is introduced to the world.

Only A Game | Soccer In A Kenyan Slum

Only A Game from NPR covers stories from all over the sports world, but they regularly feature soccer stories. And that’s no surprise, given the game’s ability to connect people and transcend social and political boundaries. This is a touching and uplifting story that you won’t hear anywhere else. (12 minutes from start)

Episode Description: Thousands of Kenyan children are benefiting from a soccer league founded in one of Nairobi’s oldest and largest slums.

Additional Listening

Get the Soccer Stories playlist on the RadioPublic app.