Fifa’s spectacular £17m film flop – are these the most brutal reviews ever?

United Passions, Fifa's self-aggrandising feature film, has united the world's media in trashing it. Chris Carter looks at some of the choicer comments.


Grard Depardieu, who plays Jules Rimet, was the only cast member at Cannes

Fifa doesn't have an army (if it did, you'd have to fear for the neighbouring cantons around its base in Zurich). But what it does have is a propaganda machine, the likes of which would make North Korea proud perhaps Kim Jong Un should throw his hat into the ring to succeed outgoing president, Sepp Blatter.

However, its latest piece of self-aggrandising has backfired somewhat both in terms of content and incredibly poor timing. United Passions, a feature film which charts the history of the governing body of world football, has united the world's media in trashing it. It also managed to pull in just £397 in its first weekend on release in the US.

So what are the critics saying? The film "comes across as a squirm-inducing heap of propaganda at its most self-congratulatory", says The LA Times' Michael Rechtshaffen.It's so bad it's not even funny, adds Daniel M Gold in The New York Times: "one of the most unwatchable films in recent memory, a dishonest bit of corporate-suite sanitising that's no good even for laughs".

Subscribe to MoneyWeek

Subscribe to MoneyWeek today and get your first six magazine issues absolutely FREE

Get 6 issues free

Sign up to Money Morning

Don't miss the latest investment and personal finances news, market analysis, plus money-saving tips with our free twice-daily newsletter

Don't miss the latest investment and personal finances news, market analysis, plus money-saving tips with our free twice-daily newsletter

Sign up

French actor Grard Depardieu, the only cast member to attend the film's premiere at Cannes last year, takes the part of Jules Rimet, Sepp Blatter's predecessor. Meanwhile, Tim Roth, who (inexplicably) plays Blatter, "looks mortified to be involved", notes Ashley Clark on film website The Village Voice. "As propaganda, United Passions is as subtle as an anvil to the temple. As drama, it's not merely ham-fisted, but pork-shouldered, bacon-wristed, and sausage-elbowed."

United Passions' director Frdric Auburtin was quick to go on the defensive. "I didn't have the freedom to do a Michael Moore movie at all," he told The New York Times. "If I started the movie with flashlights and sirens coming to Zurich, like what happened I knew if we would write any line like this, everyone would say: 'What are you doing, man? Come on'."

Given that Fifa reportedly provided around £17m in funds for the film, perhaps it's no surprise he toed the party line. "Every time we are showing something about Blatter himself, it's very, very difficult because the guy is the boss The guy is co-producing more than half the film, nearly 80%."


"Leaving this evil world behind, Sepp discovers a new planet in his golden spaceship (built by poor people who wouldn't have jobs were it not for Sepp) and is forced to repopulate this new world with only Kate Upton as a sidekick.

"Reluctantly, Blatter agrees to mate with her for the good of mankind and eventually scores a bicycle kick winning goal in the Cup Final."

Joking aside, never say never, says Tim Walker in The Independent. "Thanks to its preposterous, sports administration-based melodrama, and dialogue as clumsy as a drunken goalkeeper, the film's first act is bad enough to be worthy of a drinking game, or to attract an ironic cult following several years hence. All that cash flowing into Fifa's coffers, and they spent it on this tripe?"

But maybe the film does have some value at least as a warning to the world of business. "As cinema it is excrement", writes The Guardian's Jordan Hoffman, who gave it one star. "As proof of corporate insanity it is a valuable case study Had the arrests in Switzerland not happened, this wretched movie would have disappeared without trace. Now it is something to scrutinise and learn from."

Chris Carter

Chris Carter spent three glorious years reading English literature on the beautiful Welsh coast at Aberystwyth University. Graduating in 2005, he left for the University of York to specialise in Renaissance literature for his MA, before returning to his native Twickenham, in southwest London. He joined a Richmond-based recruitment company, where he worked with several clients, including the Queen’s bank, Coutts, as well as the super luxury, Dorchester-owned Coworth Park country house hotel, near Ascot in Berkshire.

Then, in 2011, Chris joined MoneyWeek. Initially working as part of the website production team, Chris soon rose to the lofty heights of wealth editor, overseeing MoneyWeek’s Spending It lifestyle section. Chris travels the globe in pursuit of his work, soaking up the local culture and sampling the very finest in cuisine, hotels and resorts for the magazine’s discerning readership. He also enjoys writing his fortnightly page on collectables, delving into the fascinating world of auctions and art, classic cars, coins, watches, wine and whisky investing.

You can follow Chris on Instagram.