The Pas­sions that United the Men in Foot­ball His­tory

The Economic Times - - Sports - FAIZAL KHAN

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.

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