United Passions is a 2014 English-language French drama film.
A group of passionate European mavericks join forces on an ambitious project: the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). An epic, untold story that brings to life the inspiring saga of the World Cup and the three determined men who created it. Driven by their vision and passion, Jules Rimet, João Havelange and Sepp Blatter, overcame their doubts and fought obstacles and scandals to make the World Cup a reality. Spanning the tumultuous 20th Century, this timeless saga celebrates the game that, despite it all, became not just a worldwide sport, but an expression of hope, spirit, and unity.
No, really. That's the official description.
A hagiography of the suits behind world soccer, past and present, it premiered at the 2014 Cannes Festival, but was released in the US the week after the major FIFA corruption arrests, and the same day Sepp Blatter stepped down.note Cost $30 million to make, $25 million of which came from FIFA's own coffers, and earned $900 in its opening weekend. That's not millions or even thousands, that's nine hundred dollars. One theater grossed $9, meaning one person saw it.note The only place where it made any sort of (minor) dent was its $220,000 box in Russia, not coincidentally the host nation of the 2018 World Cup.
- Alternate DVD Commentary: Slate Magazine's Hang Up and Listen podcast has posted their own commentary track, which they describe as a "Hate Watch".
- Department of Redundancy Department:Sepp Blatter: Unemployment has all but disappeared because everyone is working.
- A God Am I: At one point João Havelange explicitly compares the good he and FIFA have done in the world to acts of God.
- Historical Hero Upgrade: Gives this to FIFA and its founders, glossing over the rampant corruption.
- Historical Villain Upgrade: All of the English characters are portrayed as aloof, racist, corrupt, or some combination of the three. Note that this actually was Truth in Television to some extent, but they were really no worse than the representatives of most other European countries of the era, let alone to the cartoonish levels that the film blows their behavior up to.
- Hypocrite: The film's climax revolves around Sepp Blatter forcing the other FIFA executives to back his campaign to stamp out corruption in the organization... by blackmailing them.
- Product Placement: FIFA, obviously, but Sepp Blatter's securing of Coca-Cola and Adidas sponsorships are also made into an important plot point, with both brands prominently displayed throughout.Review: The movie opens on a big dirt field in the middle of some imaginary city. It looks like the city was built by Coca-Cola executives for the purpose of creating commercials for Coca-Cola.
- Reality Is Unrealistic: Downplayed; Sir Stanley Rous actually did lose the role of FIFA president to João Havelange primarily because of his blatant racism and open support for Apartheid. However, the fact that the film for some reason chooses to give a Historical Villain Upgrade to someone whose views would already be considered morally repugnant by modern standards, while also lionising a successor who was himself a very flawed man, ends up making Rous's faults look comically overblown by comparison.
- Ripped from the Headlines: Probably not in the way they'd hoped.
- Stealth Parody: The film's director, Frédéric Auburtin, claimed that he inserted "ironic parts" into the film.
- Stock Footage: Of some moments from various notorious matches in the World Cups, including, amongst others, the 1970 final (Brazil 4-1 Italy), the 'hand of God' by Maradona in 1986, the missed penalty by Roberto Baggio in the 1994 final, and, in the final credits, footage of a Women's World Cup and the 2010 World Cup moments of Spain scoring the goal in the final and Iker Casillas celebrating it).
- What the Hell Is That Accent?: Sam Neill as João Havelange. Doubles with WTH Casting Agency casting a New Zealander as a Brazilian.Review: Because Havelange is Brazilian, he is played by Sam Neill, a New Zealand native born in Northern Ireland. Neill chooses to use an accent that varies from scene to scene between American cowboy, Russian, and how an alien from outer space might talk. It is unclear to me whether Neill has ever spoken to a person from Brazil.