10 Must-Watch Soccer Documentaries 2023
Soccer documentaries are like the icing on the cake of an already exciting sport. the cinematic view takes the beautiful game to another new level.
These soccer documentaries give us a glimpse into the teams/players’ lives, their training, and the drama that unfolds on and off the field. They’re like a secret portal into the world of soccer, giving us a chance to see what goes on behind closed doors.
Are you looking for a little escapism over the weekend, a way to beef up your soccer knowledge, or simply want to indulge in a marathon of the world’s most popular sport, here are 10 of the must-watch soccer documentaries.
10 Must-Watch Soccer Documentaries 2023
The beautiful game, or as some like to call it “the game where you get to sit down and drink beer while watching people run around” is a never-ending tale of the unexpected.
There’s so much more happening behind the scenes that are equally entertaining. From transfer sagas to opulent lifestyles, and the ongoing battle against performance-enhancing meat pies, there’s never a dull moment in soccer.
These soccer documentaries will give you a fresh perspective on the beautiful game and might even make you appreciate it a little more.
Women’s Football In India
The beautiful game transcends borders, cultures, and backgrounds. Soccer has the power to unite people from all walks of life, and Deutsche Welle’s Kick-Off channel has done an excellent job of capturing that spirit in its series of documentaries. ”
Three Women, One Goal” is a powerful and heartwarming story that highlights the universality of the sport. It follows the journey of three women in Mapusa, North Goa, India, as they come together to play soccer despite the various barriers they each face.
It is a reminder that the love for the game knows no bounds, and it showcases how soccer can be a source of empowerment and inspiration for people of all genders and backgrounds.
The documentary is an important reminder of the power of sports to break down barriers and bring people together.
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Referees in soccer are about as popular as a mosquito in a tent. They’re the ones who get all the flak when things go wrong and it’s easy to think that a documentary about a single referee would be about as exciting as watching paint dry. But, trust me, this one is an exception.
Martin Hansson, the star of this documentary, rose through the ranks to become a referee at the 2010 FIFA World Cup. And, as fate would have it, it was Hansson who was in the hot seat for one of the most controversial calls in the tournament’s history, the Thierry Henry handball.
This documentary offers an unprecedented look into the life of a referee, and it’s a refreshing change of pace from the usual soccer documentaries.
It’s a different angle on the game, and it’s a great way to understand the pressure and responsibility that referees have to deal with, and also how difficult it is to make the right call in split seconds.
Once in a Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story of the New York Cosmos
When it comes to the history of United States soccer, the New York Cosmos is a big influence. They brought in some of the biggest names in the game, like Pele, Franz Beckenbauer, and Giorgio Chinaglia, and put American soccer on the map.
This documentary offers a glimpse into the behind-the-scenes world of the Cosmos during their glory days in the North American Soccer League in the 1970s and 80s.
While Pele, the player who helped Cosmos to become a household name in NYC, is not featured in the film, other high-profile figures who represented the club give their take on the wild era for soccer in the States.
Unfortunately, their reign at the top was short-lived. With some financial difficulties, the team’s dreams of dominating North American soccer never quite came to fruition. This film gives us what could have been, and the impact the team had during its heyday in New York City.
It’s a cautionary tale of how quickly success can fade away, but it’s also a reminder of the potential that existed for soccer in the US during that time. It’s a bittersweet watch, but it’s a must-see for anyone interested in the history of the game in America and the impact that one team can have on the sport’s trajectory.
Women In Football – Why Was It Banned? (2019)
It’s not exactly a secret that women’s soccer had to fight an uphill battle after the Football Association banned it over a century ago.
But, if you’re not familiar with the backstory, this documentary is an excellent way to learn about the outdated attitudes that denied generations of women the chance to play the sport.
Not only it is informative, but it will make you appreciate the current state of women’s soccer and the efforts made to reach where it is now. It will also make you realize the significance of the ongoing fight for gender equality in sports.
It’s a must-watch for anyone who cares about the history and the future of women’s soccer
Next Goal Wins
For the ultimate underdog story, nothing beats the tale of an undermanned team trying to climb to the top of the soccer world. That’s exactly what American Samoa tried to do in the lead-up to the 2014 World Cup, and this documentary captures all the twists and turns of that journey.
Despite the odds, they set out to qualify, and even though they came up short, the documentary gives a fascinating glimpse into the challenges they faced and the resource constraints they had to work with.
It’s a refreshing change of pace from seeing the “haves” of the soccer world and instead, it gives you an insight into the “have-nots”.
This documentary is not just about the result but the journey, the spirit, and the determination of a team, who despite the lack of resources and support, never gave up on their dream.
Sir Alex Ferguson: Never Give In
Soccer is a cut-throat sport, where managers are often the first to go when things go wrong. But, in the case of Sir Alex Ferguson, he managed to defy the odds and become one of the most successful managers in the history of the sport.
He led Manchester United to dominance in English football, winning 38 honors in a 26-year tenure. He is a celebrated figure in the world of soccer, and the documentary “Sir Alex Ferguson: Never Give In” directed by his own son Jason Ferguson, offers a rare, behind-the-scenes look into the life and mind of the legendary manager.
From his tough upbringing in Glasgow to his journey to becoming a 13-time champion of England, and a three-time champion of Europe. It’s a candid portrayal of Sir Alex Ferguson as he navigates his recovery from a brain hemorrhage suffered in 2018.
With Sir Alex narrating the majority of the film, the audience is given a front-row seat to his reflections on his career and life. The vulnerability of a wounded warrior shines through, making it an intimate and emotional watch.
For any soccer lover, this documentary is a must-watch. It’s like getting your hands on his autobiography, but with the added bonus of getting to see and hear from the man himself. It’s an insightful and inspiring look at one of the most celebrated figures in the sport, and it’s a film that will leave a lasting impression on anyone who watches it.
This cinematic film released in 2019, is just the cream of the crop. HBO had access to a wealth of never-before-seen footage, giving audiences an in-depth look at the brilliance of Maradona on the field, as well as the darker aspects of his life.
For anyone who wants to truly understand one of the greatest players in football history, this documentary is a must-watch. It delves into the complicated and often controversial aspects of Maradona’s life, from his drug abuse to his ties to the Italian mafia, and how it affected his career and personal life.
Directed by Asif Kapadia, the filmmaker behind acclaimed documentaries like “Amy” and “Senna”, “Diego Maradona” is a gripping and unflinching look at the life of the Argentine football legend. It’s a film that will leave a lasting impression on any viewer, and it’s a must-watch for any fan of the beautiful game.
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Sunderland ‘Til I Die
This is a renowned documentary that reinvigorates the power of storytelling in soccer. It offers an unflinching and insightful look into the decline of a storied club like no other.
It provides a behind-the-scenes perspective of the inner workings of a team and its institution, as it navigates through one of the most difficult periods in its 143-year history.
Following their relegation from the English Premier League, the documentary follows the club’s struggles on and off the field, including the issues faced by the team, the poor management, and the disappointed fans.
This documentary is a rare glimpse into the reality of a soccer club and its struggles, and it makes a compelling viewing that is hard to look away from. It is a unique blend of reality television and football documentary that provides an honest and realistic view of the game.
The “Two Escobars”
This is a gripping and intense documentary that delves into the intersection of crime and elite sports. It tells the story of two Colombians: one a football player, the other a notorious drug lord.
It’s a masterpiece that shines a light on the ruthless pursuit of power and money, and the brutality used to maintain it in a broken society. Although they share the same surname, the two Escobars are not related, but their lives paint a bleak picture of Colombian society.
At the height of his power, Pablo Escobar was considered the world’s richest criminal and the most powerful man in Colombia, running the Medellín Cartel with an iron fist.
But, he also gained popularity among the poor through his acts of philanthropy, rebuilding residential homes, and schools, and providing infrastructure across the country.
When he sees an opportunity to launder his money and gain more local popularity through football, he invests in grassroots soccer, and the ripple effect over the years is that Colombian football experienced an upturn in fortunes, culminating in an appearance at the 1994 World Cup in Los Angeles.
On the other hand, Andrés Escobar was the star center-back for Colombia’s national team. However, his international career is mostly remembered for his own goal, which eliminated his country from the 1994 World Cup and ultimately cost him his life.
With the use of existing footage and exceptional storytelling, the documentary explores the cause and effect between Andrés’ death and that of Pablo six months earlier.
It is a must-watch for anyone interested in the intersection of sports.
The Hillsborough documentary is a powerful and emotional film, boasting an impressive list of talking heads that will make you feel like you’re reliving the disaster all over again.
It provides a heart-wrenching and in-depth account of the tragic events of April 15, 1989, when 96 Liverpool supporters lost their lives on the terraces of the Leppings Lane end.
The documentary features interviews with those who were present at the tragic event, as well as those who lost loved ones. It also highlights the warning signs that were present before the tragedy, the shortcomings that led to the loss of lives, the malicious and unfounded allegations made by The Sun newspaper, and the tireless fight for justice by the families of the victims.
The extended version of the documentary was released following the 2016 government inquests which found that the Liverpool supporters at Hillsborough were unlawfully killed.
The documentary is tastefully done, and it’s a subject that still haunts many people today and a poignant reminder of the importance of accountability and the fight for truth and justice.
- Graham Taylor: An Impossible Job
- Zidane: A 21st-Century Portrait
- All or Nothing: Manchester City
- Arsène Wenger: Invincible
- Planet FIFA
- They Think It’s All Rovers
- The Figo Affair
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