“Our sport has a bright future ahead” begins the trailer for United Passions, a film about the history of Fifa. This may be true of football, but it’s certainly not true of Fifa – or this movie. Despite the corruption scandal which this week saw Fifa officials arrested in a US-led investigation into football’s governing body, the film will still be released in the US this Friday.
Here’s why United Passions is facing ridicule before it’s even hit the cinemas…
-Talk about bad timing: in the midst of a huge corruption scandal, Fifa’s self-funded film is a rousing movie about triumph and glory.
-The film reportedly cost £19m to make…with about £16m being supplied by Fifa itself. Many critics have pointed out that this equals the annual budget for its Goal programme to fund football projects in poorer countries.
-Fifa said the film was “open, self-critical and highly enjoyable” and that it dealt with efforts to defeat corruption. It has been reported, however, that Blatter demanded changes to the script.
-Critics who saw the film at Cannes have said there’s actually an embarrassing lack of focus on that corruption – the plot includes a few slip-ups here and there but nothing major.
-Even the trailer feels like a parody. At one point, a Fifa official is discussing who to hire to sort out the “disastrous accounts” and says, “Blatter – he’s apparently good at finding money!” At another deeply ironic moment, Blatter declares,” “Everything I’ve done up until this point has been for the good of football.”
-Fifa president Sepp Blatter is played by Pulp Fiction star Tim Roth, while Gérard Depardieu plays Jules Rimet, who is credited with creating the 1930 World Cup and Sam Neill plays the former Fifa president João Havelange. Even Roth had misgivings. “I was like, ‘Where’s all the corruption in the script?'” he told The Times. “Where is all the back-stabbing, the deals? So it was a tough one. I tried to slide in a sense of it, as much as I could get in there.”
Anyone wanting a really revealing, honest film about Fifa probably won’t have to wait all that long. Recent events have provided the perfect material for a corruption thriller. And one that’s not been bankrolled by its subject…
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