Yesterday, I spent approximately two hours not hating FIFA. Actually in all honesty, adoring FIFA’s mission and work. It is a confusing feeling filled with conflict.
Watching the documentary, Next Goal Wins, about the worst national team in the world is to be reminded how to love the game. In a world of Sepps, Jack Warners, corruption, scandal, the Qatar Cup killing machine, and a Brazil in chaos, it easy to be jaded about the game and about those who run it. It is even easier to forget that sometimes good things are done by Sepp’s evil empire.
The film showcases the American Samoan national team’s quest to qualify for the 2014 World Cup, a team that has NEVER won a game. The also hold the distinction of being on the wrong end of the worst WC Qualifying loss in FIFA history, 31 to 0. That loss, a decade ago, defined them and still does.
The team is made of up rank amateurs who love the game with a purity missing from most professional players. They love the game, their teammates, country and God with admirable devotion. What they lack is skill, talent, knowledge, equipment and facilities. They also lack hate and bigotry. One of these defenders is transgender women who is accepted without a trace of drama or judgment. [SPOILER: She becomes the first transgendered person to start a World Cup Qualifier.]
Enter saviors, FIFA’s GOAL Project run out of their development office. They provided the funding for training facilities including a pitch and equipment including training-wear. They establish the program and start getting players together and entered into FIFA sanction tournaments. They entered and played but continued to be slaughter in every match.
With the burning desire to win, the president of American Samoan soccer contacted US Soccer Federation for assistance. Not really sure of the relationship between the two federations which are in two separate confederations (Oceania and CONCACAF respectively), but American Samoa is an unincorporated territory of the U.S. so there is a strong national connection.
USSF helped them out.. It made me proud to be a US Soccer Supporters’ Club member and know that even a little of my money is going to programs like this and programs to bring the sport I love to more people.
The story is exceptionally well put together and flows well. I LOVED IT.. I laughed, cried, cheered and fell in love with every member of the team both players and the coaching team. GO WATCH IT NOW.. IT WILL REMIND YOU WHY YOU LOVE THIS SPORT SO MUCH