Dialogue Series, FIFA World Cup Series, Regional Studies

The Away Game: The Epic Search for Football’s Next Superstars


Reporter Sebastian Abbot discussed his critically acclaimed book, The Away Game, which tells the gripping story of a group of boys discovered in what may be the largest talent search in sports history. Over the course of a decade, an audacious program called Football Dreams held tryouts for millions of 13-year-old boys across Africa looking for football’s next superstars. Led by the Spanish scout who helped launch Lionel Messi’s career at Barcelona and funded by the State of Qatar, the program chose a handful of boys each year to train to become professionals—a process over a thousand times more selective than getting into Harvard. In The Away Game, Abbot follows a small group of boys as they are discovered on dirt fields across Africa and join the glittering academy in Doha where they train and compete for the chance to gain fame and fortune at Europe’s top clubs.

Speaker: Sebastian Abbot is the author of The Away Game: The Epic Search for Football’s Next Superstars, which tells the story of the largest talent search in football history. The book was a finalist for The Telegraph Football Book of the Year and the PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing. Prior to publishing the book, Mr. Abbot spent over a half dozen years working as a foreign correspondent for The Associated Press in the Middle East and Asia. He has also worked for over a decade in investment banking and private equity for firms like J.P. Morgan and Affiliated Managers Group. Mr. Abbot has a bachelor’s degree in economics from Princeton University and a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

Moderator: Danyel Reiche, Visiting Associate Professor at GUQ.