Soccerstoriesbook's Blog


SOCCER STORIES–THIS TIME IT’S ’30 FOR ’30’

ESPN Films has announced that in April it will premiere “30 for 30: Soccer Stories,” a series of documentaries as part of the lead-in to its coverage of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil in June.

“Soccer Stories” will “include a mix of stand-alone feature-length and 30-minutes-long documentary films from an award-winning group of filmmakers telling compelling narratives from around the international soccer landscape.  In addition, a collection of 10 vignettes about Brazil’s rich culture will be featured throughout ESPN’s FIFA World Cup programming,” according to ESPN Films, creators of the critically acclaimed “30 for 30” film series.  Among its works in that series was “The Two Escobars,” which explored the murder of 1994 World Cup goat Andres Escobar of Colombia and drug king Pablo Escobar’s involvement in soccer in that country.

Said Connor Schell, vice president of ESPN Films and Original Content, “With ESPN being the home of the 2014 World Cup, we know that sports fans will be looking forward to high-quality content focused on what is perhaps the world’s most revered sport.  We feel this is the perfect time to expand upon the success of our “30 for 30″ series by focusing this collection on some of the incredible stories of soccer’s legendary past.”  [January 11]

Comment:  “Soccer Stories: Anecdotes, Oddities, Lore and Amazing Feats” hereby grants ESPN permission to use the title “Soccer Stories” for its series of pre-Brasil ’14 documentaries.

Indeed, soccer is a treasure trove of compelling, ironic, tragic and humorous tales.  Some are even true, others apocryphal.  Many beg to be told.  The Hillsborough Stadium disaster is part of the ESPN series–one of its two feature-length films–and it’s part of “Soccer Stories: Anecdotes, Oddities. Lore and Amazing Feats” the book, as well.  So is a profile of the tragic life of Brazilian great Garrincha, entitled “Garrincha, Crippled Angel” in the ESPN series.  And “Barbosa–The Man Who Made All of Brazil Cry.”  And “The Opposition” (about the 1973 military coup that led to Chile’s national stadium being turned into a concentration camp/execution ground).  And “Mysteries of The Jules Rimet Trophy.”  And “Maradona ’86.”

The ESPN series is rounded out by “White, Blue and White,” a feature-length exploration of Osvaldo Ardiles’ and Ricardo Villa’s stardom in England with Tottenham Hotspur on the eve of the Falkland Islands War, and “Ceasefire Massacre,” about the terrorist murder of six men at a small pub outside Belfast who were watching Ireland play in the ’94 World Cup.  Neither made the “Soccer Stories: Anecdotes, Oddities, Lore and Amazing Feats” cut.

Perhaps ESPN’s “Soccer Stories” will prove to be an effective scene-setter for its World Cup coverage.  Not that a World Cup needs much in the way of an hors d’oeuvre, but soccer people in this country are a funny lot.  Many play but will not watch televised soccer on a regular basis or follow it through the press or Internet.  Some will watch only their kid or a favorite club.  Some are ex-patriates who’ll wake up and make like a fan only if the homeland is playing in a World Cup; some are Americans who, Olympic-like, pay attention only in World Cup years.   They’re all missing the soul of their sport, the incredible worldwide kaleidoscope that is soccer.

Look for ESPN’s “30 for 30: Soccer Stories.”  Soccer is alluring, exciting, exhilarating; by turns, it makes dreams come true and crushes hopes.  But you have to take the trouble to meet it halfway.  If you’re only playing, if you’re only coaching, if you’re only officiating, if you’re only watching, you’re missing out.

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