OWN GOAL

FIFA’s propaganda film “United Passions” bombed spectacularly in the US last weekend

Obsession
Business of Sport
Obsession
Business of Sport

The FIFA schadenfreude train keeps on rolling. United Passions, a movie about the origins of the international football governing body—which FIFA itself heavily financed—made a hilariously bad $607 during its opening weekend in the United States.

It was only playing in 10 theaters, but that is still an extremely small figure. If the average movie ticket price is around $10, then an average of six people saw the film at each theater on Friday, June 6, and Saturday, June 7. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the film cost between $25 million and $32 million to make—90% of which was funded directly by FIFA.

Even without the ill-timed FBI investigation into FIFA’s ring of corruption that led to the arrest of several high-ranking officials and ultimately forced longtime president and figurehead Sepp Blatter to resign, the film was unlikely to do very well in the US. It received unanimously dreadful reviews—The Guardian called it “cinematic excrement.” Plus, as John Oliver pointed out, the US has never been all that into soccer, so why would the self-aggrandizing story of FIFA’s history interest Americans in the first place?

The movie stars Tim Roth as Blatter, Sam Neill as his predecessor João Havelange, and French acting legend Gérard Depardieu as FIFA founder Jules Rimet. Why any of these fine actors chose to do this film is a mystery that may never be solved. Of the three, only Depardieu showed up at the film’s premiere in Cannes last year.

United Passions had only made about $200,000 worldwide during its first six months of release, before opening in the US. That’s about 1% of the amount FIFA put into making it.

Watch the trailer below. Or don’t.

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