The Passions that United the Men in Football History
Football may be a gentleman’s game, but it is a man’s sport. These words hounded Jules Rimet nearly a century ago as he and a group of European mavericks set out to build a governing body to unite the world around football. On the eve of the World Cup in Brazil, the saga of power and passion in the world of football is playing out once again, this time on a pitch it is best suited to—the silver screen. Premiered at the Cannes Film Festival on the 110th anniversary of the formation of FIFA, ‘United Passions’ delves deep into the lives of three of the most powerful men in football history. Directed by French filmmaker Frederic Auburtin, ‘United Passions’ tells the tale of Rimet, Joao Havelange and Sepp Blatter at different times in the affairs of FIFA. “The football history is as important as the passion for the game,” said Blatter, who joined French actor Gerard Depardieu for the screening. “Football is a game full of emotions, drama and passion,” added Depardieu, who plays Rimet, the FIFA boss who had a 33-year reign from 1921, before the screening at the beach cinema section for the public on Sunday
“The story of football is intimately linked to the world’s culture,” said Cannes festival’s General Delegate Thierry Fremaux, a selfconfessed football fanatic.
Rimet explains the philosophy better in ‘United Passions’. “The whole world should play football by the same rules, without colour or distinction,” says Rimet early in the film.
‘United Passions’ keeps a great amount of the film’s focus on the early years of FIFA with Rimet at the helm of affairs. With the Football Association of England, keeping out of FIFA, Rimet realises that the only way for his organisation to be taken seriously was by inventing a world championship. And the opportunity comes with the preparations for the 100th anniversary of freedom of Uruguay. “We have unlimited funds,” Uruguay’s ambassador to France tells Rimet as FIFA, which operates from a rented room in Paris, battles a severe resource crunch while preparing for the first World Cup. Uruguay succeeds in staging and winning the first World Cup in 1930, beginning an important era in football history. The film also captures the 1950 World Cup in Brazil (the only time Brazil had staged the event until 2014) in which England joins FIFA and the event for the first time. Fans watch as the hosts are beaten by Uruguay in the 1950 World Cup final at the Maracana stadium, the temple of football. Full of FIFA boardroom drama, ‘United Passions’ also brings out the controversial moments in football history when British journalist Edgar Willcox publishes a book on corruption in FIFA during the first World Cup in Asia jointly hosted by Japan and South Korea in 2002.