With all professional leagues postponed and increasing amounts of “stay at home” ordinances across the globe, it’s been difficult for fans to get their football fix of late. However, there’s still one way we can escape into the world of the beautiful game — TV and movies. From binge-worthy series to classic flicks, we’ve compiled a list of titles that have earned our seal of approval.
In trying times, it’s hard to think about the positive. The World Health Organization classified the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic two weeks ago, and the slew of misinformation and panic that has followed has been concerning to say the least.
As organizations like the WHO and the Center for Disease Control recommend social distancing and self-quarantining, it’s important to take these regulations seriously. While this means we have to put a pause on soccer meetups, large training groups, or the weekly futsal league, we can still juggle in our apartments or backyards, and we can also binge football-centered content to get us through these tough times.
We’ve saved you the work of endlessly searching for something to watch (or re-watch), and curated a list of the best TV shows and movies to pass the time while social distancing. We wanted to give you something new, so we omitted series and films that we’ve covered in the past, such as Club de Cuervos, Foosballers, Maradona, and Ballon sur Bitume. (But by all means, watch those if you haven’t already!)
Patricia Sanchez’s Picks
The Two Escobars
Possibly the greatest soccer documentary of all time, The Two Escobars removes the veil from one of the biggest World Cup collapses in the tournament’s history. The ESPN 30 for 30 film focuses on the entanglement of football and the drug trade in Colombia leading up to the 1994 World Cup. The eponymous characters, Colombian national team captain Andres and drug kingpin Pablo, were foils of one another, representing the duality of life in the country during that tumultuous era. Rent it on YouTube, Amazon Prime or Google Play.
This Is Football
A comprehensive look at the hearts and souls that support the sport on all levels. The first season of the Amazon Prime series is broken down into six parts with six different themes that steer each hour-long episode. From prominent players and figures in football to fans in unexpected places, this series also explores the impact football has in other areas of life. Stream now via Amazon Prime.
Alive and Kicking: The Soccer Grannies of South Africa
A quick watch at only 20 minutes, Alive and Kicking is a cute and inspiring short film that chronicles older women in the small province of Limpopo, South Africa. Using the beautiful game to promote their health and sense of community, these women might not be your average soccer player, but the game still impacts them in a profound way. Stream it on the film’s official website.
Becoming Champions is the 2018 Netflix documentary that looks at the backstories of the teams and players who have achieved the elusive title of World Cup champion. It’s not groundbreaking in what it covers, but it is a fun recap of some of the best players and teams who make the World Cup such a marvelous event. Stream it via Netflix.
Sunderland ‘Til I Die
One of the most popular soccer docu-series on any streaming platform, it’s about time you rewatch Sunderland ‘Til I Die. The gripping eight-part saga follows one of the most passionate fanbases in the world as they are tested through relegation and a foundering team core. Stream it now via Netflix.
Kyle Scoble’s Picks
Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait
Offering a unique window into the mind of the one of the best players ever, this film pushes the boundaries of sports documentary. The only dialogue you hear are orders to teammates or reactions as 17 cameras follow Zizou for a single game. Mogwai’s eerie soundtrack comes and goes as the stadium footage is interwoven with a TV broadcast of the game. As the game transpires, text appears on screen and we are brought into Zidane’s virtuosic mind — early soccer memories, what he thinks about during a game, and reflections on life. While the film isn’t available to stream online, you can order a physical copy via Amazon. Trust us, it’s worth it.
Kicking It will hit you right in the feels. Follow seven players as they work together to represent their country and improve their own lives. Collin Farrell narrates as the tournament takes on a life of its own. You can find the doc on free video streaming app Tubi now.
Follow Luke and Gwendolyn, two former Division I college soccer players caught between keeping the passion for the game they love and moving on to the real world after graduation. They decide to travel the globe one pick up game at a time — going from prisons in Bolivia to public courts in Tehran and all the way to moonshiners in Africa. Through their adventures, they show us how the game itself truly is a language of its own. Ultimately a film exploring humanity, Pelada reminds us all why we originally fell in love with soccer. Rent via iTunes or Amazon.
The English Game
In what has turned out to be perfect timing, The English Game debuted on Netflix over the weekend. The six-part series takes us back to the early days of the FA Cup — a time when players weren’t paid to play, and the game was accessible only to England’s elite. A classic David vs. Goliath sports story, The English Game chronicles how a club from a struggling working class town revolutionized football, both in its players and playing style. Stream now via Netflix.