So…I watched United Passions and this movie is all over the place. There are moments where it seems as if they made the movie for those who have never heard of soccer or FIFA but then there are moments where you have to be an expert to understand what’s going on. All throughout the movie, it cuts back to children playing soccer on a dirt lot. The scenes don’t really have much to do with the movie, it’s only there to show that children playing soccer is all because of FIFA.
Except for the scenes involving the children playing soccer in present day, the movie goes in chronological order. Here we get our first taste of how everyone is ignorant except for FIFA. In 1904, Carl Hirschmann and the man who would become the first FIFA President, Robert Guerin, meet up with the heads of the the English FA to talk about forming a worldwide organization consisting of members from the European countries. The English dismiss them believing that foreigners don’t know anything about the “beautiful game,” much less run it. That led to the formation of FIFA without the English.
Fast forward 20 years later and we find ourselves in Paris as the head of the Uruguayan FA is bragging that Uruguay won the gold medal at the 1924 Paris Olympics. The FIFA President at that time, Jules Rimet, gets into an argument with the Uruguayan that because of countries like England and Argentina not participating and Olympic teams play with amateur players, they shouldn’t consider themselves as world champions. Afterwards, Rimet gets the idea to have a world championship.
Struggling to find a place to host and money to run the tournament, FIFA gets a lifeline in Uruguay. In 1925, Uruguay enters into an “agreement” with FIFA to pay for the entire tournament if they get to host the first World Cup in 1930. This happened in 1925, the announcement of a World Cup took place in 1928 and the “vote” didn’t happen until 1929. It had already been decided for four years that Uruguay would host the World Cup but it had to be official via a vote. This corruption would just be the beginning.
More “holier than thou” wisdom from FIFA comes as a heated debate rises between Rimet, Rimet’s daughter and a rich aristocrat. The aristocrat balked at the concept of staging a world tournament in the Americas and may as well add Africans and women. Rimet immediately scolds the man.
FIFA meets to decide on where to stage the 1938 World Cup. They regretted on having Italy host the 1934 World Cup because Mussolini used the tournament for “mass propaganda” of his fascist agenda. And to this day, politics and FIFA go hand in hand.
The dialogue throughout the movie reads like a history textbook. Hardly any of the dialogue is natural and it seems as if there was a checklist of things that had to be mentioned before moving on to the next scene. There’s a specific scene where Rimet is talking about The Death Match between Ukrainian team FC Start (consisting of players from Dynamo Kyiv and Kokomotyv Kyiv) and a team consisting of the best Nazi soccer players. I could write a whole separate article based on this match but the main point was that the Nazi’s took over Ukraine and wanted to humiliate FC Start by making them lose to the Nazi’s. They refused and won the game and were captured afterwards to be sent to concentration camps by the Nazi’s. Many of the players on the team would be killed in the camps. Anyway, this had nothing to do with FIFA and the overall storyline, but they put this in the movie in order to stress the point that if FIFA was there to organize the match, those players from FC Start would still be alive.
Onto 1970 and we see more corruption take place. Joao Havelange became FIFA President in 1974 by treating, among others, African delegates to expensive hotels in the 1970 World Cup. In the movie, Havelange claims that he paid more attention to the many largely ignored nations and promised to pay more attention to them but I imagine the top notch amenities didn’t hurt either.
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