Why you should be watching FIFA Uncovered on Netflix
Attention to detail8
James R | On 30, Dec 2022
“I just thought ‘these are the guys that make the rules’,” says the ex-partner of a FIFA executive in FIFA Uncovered, Netflix’s excellent documentary that takes a closer look at the dealings behind the global football organisation.
The 2022 World Cup through into sharp light issues of human rights and corruption, from speculation surrounding the selection of the host country to questions surrounding the construction of the tournament’s stadiums. FIFA Uncovered, then, feels like a particularly timely piece of documentary filmmaking, but it begins with a reminder that money, morality and large institutions are not new bedfellows, taking us back to 2015 when dozens of senior FIFA figures were arrested following an investigation into corruption.
The series then takes us all the way back to the beginnings of FIFA, when the governing body was formed in the 1970s. It’s not long until the former president João Havelange starts to see the potential for the organisations influence and authority, as a partnership with Coca-Cola introduces mass sponsorship to the playing field. That forensic attention to detail makes for a patient and absorbing watch, as the show unturns every stone going – from the Argentina-hosted World Cup in 1978, which had its own political complications, to numerous other scandals from over the decades.
The result is a powerful piece of television and works so well not because it points the finger at a range of people but because it zooms out as much as it zooms in. What emerges is a portrait not just of a sporting body but of a time in human civilisation when corporate power and capitalism combined to create a compromised world, where men and systems put themselves into a position where they could avoid accountability. Expertly edited with insightful talking heads, this is essential viewing for any sports fan – and a sobering reminder that power has the potential to corrupt people, and that money has the potential to corrupt power.