Netflix miniseries review

Right now, the eyes of the world are on Qatar. As you know, Middle East country receives the world Cup men’s soccer. However, there is a dirty side to the tournament that we don’t see on the glossy TV broadcasts – but which you can find on Netflixin the miniseries FIFA schemes🇧🇷

Launched now in early November, the North American production directed by Daniel Gordon dives into the controversial side of the world’s largest football (and, consequently, sport) entity. And these waters are quite murky and dirty.

Divided into four episodes, the production quickly goes through the (somewhat romanticized) origin of FIFA, reaching the first event that would change it forever: the election of the Brazilian João Havelange for the presidency of the entity. Along with him would also come another famous name from the sports news (and, more recently, from the police): the then general secretary Joseph Blatter🇧🇷

From a relatively small tournament, with 16 teams, the World Cup – the crown jewel of FIFA – has gradually become this worldwide phenomenon in the financial sense, turning in a lot of money. And where there is money there is power. With each event, a huge, ugly and frightening animal appears, which feeds on greed and agrees to sit next to dictators.

To paint this trajectory, FIFA schemes not only does it present a great research work, with great archival footage, but also an access to the main actors of this story. Among those interviewed are Sepp Blatter himself (who would become the entity’s president), Jérôme Valcke (Former General Secretary) Ricardo Teixeira (former president of our CBF), Hassan Al-Thawadi (from the 2022 World Cup organizing committee) and Mohammed Bin Hammam (former FIFA presidential candidate) – all accused and investigated for FIFA corruption. To the same extent, the production listens to journalists, accusers and investigators.

That way, we don’t have that boring documentary, with a narration that explains and contextualizes each fact. There isn’t an announcer: it’s the interviews that glue together all the events, in a more fluid format and that, in a way, listen to different sides of this story. Now, make no mistake: impartiality is a myth and FIFA schemes it does have an air of denunciation and disapproval, including quite incisive questions asked of the interviewees. There is, however, a chance to understand that the figures we see there are three-dimensional.

After all, FIFA’s strength grew beyond the sport, becoming a true power game that involved (and probably still involves) exchanges of favors and distribution of hefty resources. Even agreements between governments, with interest between large companies (including state-owned companies), entered the balance.

To what extent is such lobbying valid, for the good of nations and peoples, and when does it go wrong? And, when it becomes reprehensible, is there a limit within the excused attitudes? Taking the World Cup to the African continent is something noble, but is buying votes for South Africa during the host country selection process better or equal to collaborating with Vladimir Putin’s Russia and the dictatorship in Qatar? Above all, were the criticisms of the host country of this year’s tournament all genuinely motivated, or were they also driven by Western prejudice?

In its format, FIFA schemes does not provide clear answers to these questions, but the miniseries is meticulous in cutting lines, whether from archives or new interviews, which give a mafia tone to the entity’s top leadership. If someone did a “who said that?” between Blatter and Don Corleone, including just the statements with the word “family”, you would certainly miss the half.

From the end of the third episode, the miniseries changes tone a little. It becomes almost procedural, following the details of the great FBI investigation that, in 2015, arrested many of those involved in the schemes. There’s more: the production dives into the organization of the Qatar Cup, including the deaths of immigrants that occurred during construction work on stadiums and infrastructure.

Decisions taken considering individual desires, after all, often go completely against collective needs. All this while Blatter fed the delirium of, in an extremely corrupt environment, conquering world peace.

Still, despite the title in Portuguese, the Netflix miniseries leaves aside many of FIFA’s schemes. We know, for example, that there was a systematic purchase of votes by national federations in the choice of World Cup venues and the entity’s presidents, all under the pretext of promoting football in those nations. In passing, we are informed that many of these works never got off the ground, but the series does not delve into the functioning of local structures of corruption, for example.

Another point only touched on by the miniseries involves transmission rights, mainly from the mid-2000s. It is TV money (and now streaming) that moves much of the bribery – including stratospheric inflation in recent decades.

There’s more: the 2014 World Cup, in Brazil, is simply ignored in the reports about the last editions of the tournament. Did we have, at least with the federation, a clean and transparent process? Doubt remains.

Regardless of the choice of what entered and what was left out in the reported story, FIFA schemes it has several technical and journalistic merits – without falling into the temptation of spectacularizing or dramatizing events. It, however, should only serve as the tip of the iceberg, opening the eyes of the public so that everyone understands, once and for all, that football, money, power and politics do mix. Sport is just a reflection of who we are: imperfect and corruptible beings.

It’s not just football, in the worst possible sense of that expression.

FIFA schemes

Closed (2022-2022)

FIFA schemes

Closed (2022-2022)

Created by: John Battsek, Daniel Gordon

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