FIFA-lionising film that failed in Europe to hit U.S

Wed Jun 3, 2015 3:30pm EDT
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By Michael Roddy

LONDON (Reuters) - The film "United Passions" in which British actor Tim Roth portrays FIFA president Sepp Blatter does not hit American cinema screens until Friday, but whether it sinks - as it did in Europe - or swims it has at least one immortal line:

"Blatter is apparently good at finding money," a voice intones on the trailer for the film which industry website IMDB says will have its U.S. launch on June 5.

Heavily financed by FIFA and meant to show it as a force for good - and Blatter as the Maradona of scoring sponsorships - "United Passions" was born under a different star than the black one hovering over world soccer's governing body.

U.S. prosecutors have launched a fraud and corruption investigation of FIFA, which was announced to the world by the early-morning arrests of several FIFA officials in Zurich last week.

There were more arrests this week and on Tuesday, Blatter announced his resignation, four days after being re-elected as FIFA president and shortly before it emerged that he too was under investigation by U.S. law enforcement.

This is not the kind of real-world trailer that FIFA had envisaged for its movie which, according to IMDB, had an estimated budget of 24 million euros ($27 million), of which FIFA officials have acknowledged providing about 20 million.

"FIFA has been considering the production of a feature film about its history for some time, dating back to 2004 when FIFA was approached with a concept to coincide (with) our centennial celebrations," FIFA says in a post on its website explaining why it helped finance the film when the producers came cap in hand.

"FIFA then agreed to contribute, considering this to be a unique opportunity to raise awareness of the breadth of FIFA’s work to develop football globally. 'United Passions' allows FIFA to highlight the challenges involved in establishing the FIFA World Cup in order to turn it into the world’s biggest single sporting event."   Continued...

Actor Gerard Depardieu (L) and FIFA President Sepp Blatter pose on the red carpet for the screening of the film "United Passions" at the 67th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes May 18, 2014. REUTERS/Yves Herman