Armando Bo’s look into how a Brazilian man wrestled control from Europe of the biggest sport on earth is headed to Prime Video.
Amazon will release the 43-year-old Argentine Oscar-winning screenwriter and film director’s Amazon Original El Presidente: The Corruption Game on November 4.
In a neat historical echo, backed by Bo’s About Entertainment, Narcos producer Gaumont TV, Pablo and Juan de Dios Larraín’s Fabula and Argentine powerhouse Kapow, the second season in the El Presidente series saga of soccer business high jinks and low morals now looks set to become one of the biggest soccer titles released in the countdown to the greatest show on earth, the FIFA World Cup.
Whether FIFA will be entirely comfortable with it is another matter, if a trailer, shared in exclusivity with Variety, is anything to go by.
One of Iberseries’ biggest market premieres, El Presidente: The Corruption Game had its world premiere of its first two episodes on October 14 at this year’s reinvigorated Festival do Rio.
Season 1 turned on the feckless, sly, amoral but simpático Sergio Jadue, a Chilean small town soccer club supremo who’s elected president of Chile’s soccer association. The wrong man in the right place, a fish out of water, he rises in FIFA’s hierarchy, sparking FIFA Gate, a $150 million corruption scandal. Bo tells the story as ironic farce.
Now narrated by Jadue, The President: The Corruption Game teases out the human tragedy in a still arch comedy, which unspools on a far grander scale.
It takes on another extraordinary – but far more towering – figure, Brazil’s Havelange, FIFA president over 1974-98. A hulking giant with dashing blond looks, Havelange dedicated his life to serving Brazil – swimming in the 1936 Berlin Games, working as the vice-president of the Brazilian Sports Confederation from 1958 to 1973, when Brazil won three World Cups – and to serving himself from FIFA’s gravy train.
Glimpsed in the trailer, colorful scenes kick off El Presidente: The Corruption Game with Havelange fuming as Pele is literally kicked out of the first round of England’s 1966 Word Cup, Havelange, the son of a Belgian arms dealer, is outraged by a FIFA meeting where “third world” members are forced to sit in a different room from their European colleagues.
In 1974, as Johan Cruyff forged the modern game on-field, Havelange began to revolutionize its economics and reach – central events in the second season.
Seizing control of FIFA from Sir Stanley Rous, a neo-colonial buffer, over the next 24 years, he created soccer’s modern global business, powered by sponsorship and TV deals, while enlarging the World Cup to 32 teams and introducing a FIFA Women’s World Cup.
But Havelange did so at a tremendous cost, opening FIFA up to multi-million bribery and money laundering and losing his friends, family and honor when he fell into final total disgrace over the 2015-16 FIFA Gate at the age of 98.
El Presidente: The Corruption Game, a mixture of near doc recreation and self-declared fiction, begins with a doddery Havelange, now celebrating his 100th birthday. Only one guest accepts his invitation.
Much of this is caught in the fast-paced, extensive trailer. Havelange used Brazil’s stunning 1970 World Cup triumph to bid to become FIFA president. He is rebuffed by Europe’s still colonial FIFA members. “Even if Brazil wins 100 World Cups, decisions will never be made in the colonies,” FIFA general secretary Helmut Kässer tells him.
Havelange launches an extraordinary play for the votes of poor countries, winning them by his promises, backhanders and a tour of Africa with Pele.
“FIFA is entering the future,” Havelange announces in the trailer. Nobody transformed soccer more off the field more than he did. It wasn’t all for the better.