United Passions

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United Passions
United Passions.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Frédéric Auburtin
Produced by
  • Louisa Maurin
  • Christine Gozlan
Screenplay by
  • Frédéric Auburtin
  • Jean-Paul Delfino
Music by Jean-Pascal Beintus
Cinematography Inti Briones
Edited byOlivier Gajan
  • Leuviah Films
  • Thelma Films
Distributed by TF1 International
Release date
  • 16 June 2014 (2014-06-16)(Cannes)
  • 5 June 2015 (2015-06-05)(United States)
Running time
110 minutes
BudgetUS$25–32 million [1]
Box office$168,832 [2]

United Passions (French: United Passions: La Légende du football) is a 2014 English-language French drama film about the origins of the world governing body of association football, Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). Ninety-percent funded by FIFA, [3] it stars Tim Roth, Gérard Depardieu and Sam Neill, and is directed by Frédéric Auburtin. It premiered at the Cannes Film Festival on 18 May 2014.

French language Romance language

French is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Gallo-Romance, the spoken Latin in Gaul, and more specifically in Northern Gaul. Its closest relatives are the other langues d'oïl—languages historically spoken in northern France and in southern Belgium, which French (Francien) has largely supplanted. French was also influenced by native Celtic languages of Northern Roman Gaul like Gallia Belgica and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders. Today, owing to France's past overseas expansion, there are numerous French-based creole languages, most notably Haitian Creole. A French-speaking person or nation may be referred to as Francophone in both English and French.

Drama (film and television) Film and television genre

In film and television, drama is a genre of narrative fiction intended to be more serious than humorous in tone. Drama of this kind is usually qualified with additional terms that specify its particular subgenre, such as "police crime drama", "political drama", "legal drama", "historical period drama", "domestic drama", "teen drama" or "comedy-drama". These terms tend to indicate a particular setting or subject-matter, or else they qualify the otherwise serious tone of a drama with elements that encourage a broader range of moods.

FIFA International governing body of association football

The Fédération Internationale de Football Association is a non-profit organization which describes itself as an international governing body of association football, fútsal, beach soccer, and efootball. It is the highest governing body of football.


The film's release in North America on 5 June 2015 was particularly unsuccessful, coinciding with the 2015 FIFA corruption case. In the United States, the film grossed just $918 in its opening weekend, making it the lowest-grossing film in American history. The film was unanimously poorly reviewed, and is considered to be one of the worst films of all time. The film was also a major box-office bomb, losing $26.8 million worldwide [1] and failing to obtain a theatrical distribution in many markets.

2015 FIFA corruption case cases of corruption by officials and associates connected with FIFA

In 2015, U.S. federal prosecutors disclosed cases of corruption by officials and associates connected with the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the governing body of association football, futsal and beach soccer.


In 1905, after the English football federation rejects an offer to join the formation of an international governing body for football, Robert Guérin forms FIFA, and makes himself the first president. Years after its formation, it is all but unknown. Jules Rimet, then president of FIFA, publicly mocks Uruguay's victory in the 1924 Summer Olympic football games, hoping that this audacious move will make FIFA more publicly visible. However, the media does not publish his mockery. Still optimistic, he decides that the only way to make themselves known is to organize a truly international tournament: the World Cup.

Robert Guérin President of FIFA

Robert Guérin was a French journalist, and the 1st President and one of the founders of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). A journalist with Le Matin newspaper, Guérin was actively involved in football through his role as secretary of the Football Department of the Union des Sociétés Françaises de Sports Athlétiques. He brought together representatives of the first seven member countries in Paris for the signing of FIFA's foundation act and agreement of the first FIFA statutes. On 23 May 1904, Guérin was elected president at the inaugural FIFA Congress and remained in his post for two years, during which time another eight associations came on board, including the Football Association.

Jules Rimet founders of association football institution

Jules Rimet was a French football administrator who was the 3rd President of FIFA, serving from 1921 to 1954. He is FIFA's longest-serving president, in office for 33 years. He also served as the president of the French Football Federation from 1919 to 1942.

Uruguay national football team mens national association football team representing Uruguay

The Uruguay national football team represents Uruguay in international association football and is controlled by the Uruguayan Football Association, the governing body for football in Uruguay. The current head coach is Óscar Tabárez. The Uruguayan team is commonly referred to as La Celeste . They have won the Copa América 15 times, the most successful national team in the tournament, the most recent title being the 2011 edition. The team has won the FIFA World Cup twice, including the first World Cup in 1930 as hosts, defeating Argentina 4–2 in the final. They won their second title in 1950, upsetting host Brazil 2–1 in the final match, which received an attendance higher than any football match ever.

Rimet is at the point of giving up organizing the World Cup due to a lack of funds until he receives an unexpected letter from Enrique Buero. Buero and his South American ties will fund the first World Cup, hoping that in doing so, it will make Uruguay and other South American countries more well-known. Rimet and Buero collude to award the first World Cup to Uruguay. In 1930, Uruguay wins the first World Cup. Rimet remains president of FIFA, working through the Great Depression, looming war, and disagreement among FIFA members; Rimet would organize the 1938 World Cup, but would fail to do so in 1942 and 1946 due to World War II.

Great Depression 20th-century worldwide economic depression

The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression that took place mostly during the 1930s, beginning in the United States. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations; in most countries, it started in 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s. It was the longest, deepest, and most widespread depression of the 20th century. In the 21st century, the Great Depression is commonly used as an example of how intensely the world's economy can decline.

World War II 1939–1945, between Axis and Allies

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from more than 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 70 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

After the war, Rimet organized two more World Cups in 1950 and 1954. The World Cup and FIFA after the war grew significantly, with many new members joining in many parts of the world. After many years, FIFA is now under the reign of president João Havelange. Havelange is voted into power using expensive trips and various modern lobbying tactics. Havelange sees FIFA as an organization in financial disarray, and works to find various sponsors to finance its operation. Throughout his tenure as the president of FIFA, he has a right hand man, Sepp Blatter, who impresses Havelange with his unrelenting work. Eventually, Blatter becomes the next president of FIFA.

João Havelange President of FIFA

Jean-Marie Faustin Godefroid "João" de Havelange was a Brazilian lawyer, businessman, athlete and centenarian who served as the seventh President of FIFA from 1974 to 1998. His tenure as President is the second longest in FIFA's history, behind only that of Jules Rimet. He received the title of Honorary President when leaving office, but resigned in April 2013. He succeeded Stanley Rous and was succeeded by Sepp Blatter. João Havelange served as a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) from 1963 to 2011. He was the longest-serving active member upon his resignation. In July 2012 a Swiss prosecutor's report revealed that, during his tenure on FIFA's Executive Committee, he and his son-in-law Ricardo Teixeira took more than $41 million in bribes in connection with the award of World Cup marketing rights.

Sepp Blatter 8th President of the International Federation of Association Football

Joseph "Sepp" Blatter is a Swiss football administrator who was the eighth President of the FIFA from 1998 to 2015. He is currently serving a six-year ban from participating in FIFA activities.

Corruption within FIFA builds up over the years from Havelange's expansion efforts. As president of FIFA, Blatter is tasked to clean this up, for which he is seen as a controversial president. Many FIFA officials attempt to vote him out of office because of how incorruptible he is. The movie ends with a 2006 vote, in which Blatter is able to retain his presidency by cowing the corrupt members of FIFA, threatening to expose their ill deeds if they do not endorse Blatter and his anti-corruption campaign by voting for him as the FIFA president.


Tim Roth British actor

Timothy Simon Roth is an English actor and director. He made his debut in the television film Made in Britain (1982). He gained critical acclaim for his role as Myron in The Hit (1984), for which he was nominated for the BAFTA Award for Most Promising Newcomer. Among a group of prominent British actors of the era, the "Brit Pack", Roth gained more attention for his performances in The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (1989), Vincent & Theo (1990) and Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead (1990).

Gérard Depardieu French actor

Gérard Xavier Marcel Depardieu is a French actor. He is one of the most prolific character actors in film history, having completed more than 170 films since 1967. He has received acclaim for his performances in The Last Metro (1980), for which he won the César Award for Best Actor, in Police (1985), for which he won the Volpi Cup for Best Actor, Jean de Florette (1986), and Cyrano de Bergerac (1990), winning the Cannes Film Festival for Best Actor, his second César Award for Best Actor, and his first Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. He co-starred in Peter Weir's comedy Green Card (1990), winning a Golden Globe Award and later acted in many big budget Hollywood movies including Ridley Scott's 1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992), Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet (1996), Randall Wallace's The Man in the Iron Mask (1998), and Ang Lee's Life of Pi (2012). He is a Chevalier of the Légion d'honneur and Chevalier of the Ordre national du Mérite. He was granted citizenship of Russia in January 2013, and became a cultural ambassador of Montenegro during the same month.

Sam Neill New Zealand actor, writer, producer and director

Nigel John Dermot Neill, known professionally as Sam Neill, is a British-New Zealand actor, writer, producer and director. By family tradition, he enjoys an avocation as vigneron. Born in Omagh, Northern Ireland, he moved to Christchurch, New Zealand with his family in 1954. Neill first achieved recognition with his appearance in the 1977 film Sleeping Dogs, which he followed with leading roles in My Brilliant Career (1979), Omen III: The Final Conflict, Possession, A Cry in the Dark (1988), Dead Calm (1989), and The Piano (1993). He came to international prominence with his portrayal of Dr. Alan Grant in Jurassic Park (1993), reprising the role in 2001's Jurassic Park III as well as the upcoming Jurassic World 3 (2021).


Principal photography took place in Switzerland, Azerbaijan, France and Brazil. [4] FIFA wanted the film finished for release in the summer of 2014, ahead of the FIFA World Cup in Brazil. [5] The film's script was completed in four months. [5] FIFA's original title suggestions for the film were Men of Legend and The Dreammakers. [6]


The film's United States release coincided with the 2015 FIFA corruption case, in which several current and former members of FIFA's executive committee were arrested for charges of corruption. [7] The corruption investigation led to the resignation of FIFA's president, Sepp Blatter, following decades of speculation and accusations of corruption at FIFA under his leadership. [8]

The film was accused of ignoring these long-running claims. Roth has said that he asked the filmmakers: "Where's all the corruption in the script? Where is all the back-stabbing, the deals?" He said he attempted to convey these elements through his performance, saying: "It was a tough one. I tried to slide in a sense of it, as much as I could get in there." [9] The film's director, Frédéric Auburtin, claimed he inserted "ironic parts" into the film. [9]

Prior to its release, comedian John Oliver lampooned the film in a segment on his show Last Week Tonight , saying that the "movie, like FIFA itself, looks terrible" and asking, "Who makes a sports film where the heroes are the executives?" [10] The film also faced criticism from media concerning the £16 million cost of production, more than the annual turnover of most of FIFA's national associations. [11] [12] [13]


Box office

The film was made on a budget of between $25–32 million, [14] with the Los Angeles Times reporting an estimated budget of $29 million. [15] Roughly £17 million [16] (about US$27 million; 90% of the total budget) was financed by FIFA. [1] The film was reported to have lost around $26.8 million due to its poor theatrical returns. [1]

In North America, the film became a box office bomb. [14] [17] It opened on Friday, 5 June 2015, and grossed a mere $319 on its opening day from 10 theaters in New York City, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Phoenix, Kansas City, Miami, Minneapolis, Houston, Dallas, and Philadelphia, followed by an even worse $288 on Saturday. [14] [18] For its three-day opening (Friday-to-Sunday), it grossed only $918—the worst opening of all time for a film opening in 10 to 15 theatres in U.S. box office history. [5] [18] [19]

The FilmBar theater in Downtown Phoenix reported a gross of $9, indicating that only one person bought a ticket to see the film. [14] The film was withdrawn from cinemas by its distributor, Screen Media Films, following its appalling opening weekend performance at the box office. In North America, it ended up becoming the lowest-grossing film of all time, [20] surpassing the previous record held by I Kissed a Vampire ($1,380) in 2012. [6]

For the film's screening at the Zurich Film Festival on 5 October 2014, about 120 people paying $22.70 per ticket viewed the film in a 500-seat cinema. [1] [21] Overall, the highest revenue outside of North America came from Russia and the CIS (£144,000), Portugal (£4,000) and Serbia (£2,000), while the profits from Hungary, Slovenia, Switzerland and Ukraine were minimal. [1] [21] In France, the film was released straight to DVD. [16]

Auburtin, in his first interview since the film's disastrous US opening in June 2015 told The Hollywood Reporter that he tried to strike a balance between "a Disney propaganda film [and] a Costa-Gavras/Michael Moore movie", but the project ultimately tipped in FIFA's favor. He added, "Now I'm seen as bad as the guy who brought AIDS to Africa or the guy who caused the financial crisis. My name is all over [this mess], and apparently I am a propaganda guy making films for corrupt people." [5]

Roth, who has not seen the film and has declined repeated requests to speak about the film, confessed in May 2015, before the scandal broke, to German newspaper Die Welt : "Yeah, I apologize I didn't question the director, I didn't question the script", he said. "This is a role that will have my father turning in his grave". He admitted that he took the job for the money, saying it helped him out of a "financial hole", and added: "[B]ut you know what? The hole FIFA has dug for itself is so deep, they'll never get out of it". [5]

Critical reception

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 0%, with an average rating of 1.01/10, based on 16 reviews. [22] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 1 out of 100, based on 9 critics, indicating "overwhelming dislike". [23] It is regarded as one of the worst films ever made. The film has been criticized for the poor quality of the drama, [24] the unsuitability of the topic of administrative matters for a movie [25] and the perceived biases of the film, with The Guardian describing it as "cinematic excrement" and "self-hagiography", [24] and others calling it a "cringeworthy, self-aggrandizing affair", [7] and "astonishingly crass". [26]

Several reviewers commented on the irony of the portrayal of Blatter in the film as an anti-corruption campaigner. Sara Stewart of the New York Post described it as "hilariously ill-timed", [27] while Paul Field of the Daily Mirror said that this created "unintentional comedy gold". [28]

Writing in the London Evening Standard , Des Kelly described United Passions as "the worst movie ever made" and "the most extraordinary vanity exercise; a vile, self-aggrandizing, sugar-coated pile of manure where Blatter and Co. manage to make North Korea's Kim Jong-un look self-effacing". [29]

Daniel M. Gold of The New York Times claimed United Passions is "one of the most unwatchable films in recent memory, a dishonest bit of corporate-suite sanitizing that's no good even for laughs". [30] In a later interview, Gold claimed it would make the top three of his list of all-time bad films. [31]


In the 36th Golden Raspberry Awards ceremony, this film won a special category, the "Barry L. Bumstead Award".

See also

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