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Corruption: FIFA ‘mafia’ depicted in new Amazon Prime satire

FOOTBALL By AFP | June 5th 2020
Former Fifa president Sepp Blatter. [AFP]

Fans yearning for return of professional football have spent months rewatching classic matches, obsessing over “contact training” schedules and adopting teams from far-flung leagues that play in empty stadiums.

Amazon Prime’s new series “El Presidente,” out today, provides a much-needed football fix -- but its witheringly satirical take on the 2015 “Fifagate” corruption scandal may leave supporters questioning whether the return of the beautiful game is a good thing after all.

“It was crazy what was going on, no?” said series creator and writer Armando Bo. 

“Not just Fifa... the corruption scandal was so huge, the FBI wanted to show they were the good guys... Everyone wanted to be part of it. So many hands on this super huge business.”

The $150 million bribery scandal that rocked the football world with the arrests of dozens of football executives -- many of them Latin American -- culminated in the downfall of Fifa boss Sepp Blatter.

“El Presidente” tells the story through the eyes of Sergio Jadue, a young Chilean who improbably rose from the front office of a humble local club to the vice presidency of CONMEBOL, South American football’s governing body.

Filmed mainly in Spanish with subtitles, its depiction of a naive but ambitious character getting swept up in an international criminal world of bribery, fraud and even violence is reminiscent of Netflix’s hit drama “Narcos.”

“I guess it’s different, football and drugs -- for me, the big challenge was there’s not so much blood,” joked Bo, who won an Oscar for co-writing 2014’s black comedy “Birdman.”

“This kind of mafia is more difficult. In ‘Narcos,’ you can just kill everyone and that’s it. It’s real. Here, people didn’t die -- not too many.”

Amazon will hope “El Presidente” -- co-produced by Gaumont, the same French firm behind “Narcos” -- enjoys the same global appeal.

Hopping between countries and following a US undercover agent who tracked Jadue and his co-conspirators, the series is “really local but also really meaningful in every country,” said Bo. “And it’s an era when subtitles are allowed, no?”

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