What is it about?
El Presidente is a Spanish comedy sports drama created by Oscar-winning screenwriter Armando Bo. This scintillating eight-part series reveals the 2015 FIFA scandal that rocked the world and resulted in the expulsion of Sepp Blatter and the arrests of big names in the organization.
Episode one begins in Zurich where shady and slimy looking but rather stylish old men get together and rumble through sexist jokes in various European languages. It’s the funeral of the head of Argentine football, Julio Grondona, and these men are the respective heads of their countries’ football associations. Weirdly, it is Grondona who narrates the show from beyond the grave.
Our protagonist is the unassuming head of the Chilean FA (the ANFP) and Grondona’s protegé, Sergio Jadue. Through a little bit of clever positioning in between two rival factions within the ANFP, Jadue ends up being elected president of the whole organisation aged just 31, then heads off to his first Conmebol summit, where he’s thrust into the backstabbing world of South American footballing politics. Jadue’s important, of course, because he will eventually become the FBI’s key witness and informant in Fifagate.
It’s worth noting that we are introduced El Presidente's major characters in that classic (overused) crime-movie voiceover/graphical overlay that tells you people’s names and job titles, for example. And some of the exposition, presumably for the benefit of non-football fans, is so on the nose as to almost knock you out.
And yet, despite all this, you’re still going to watch it, because, with the suspension of most of the world’s best leagues, the footballing landscape currently resembles a desert and El Presidente is a stone you can desperately suck on for moisture. There’s not even that much football in it – a young Arturo Vidal makes a sneaky appearance and there’s some archive footage of Lionel Messi – but there are bribes galore, blackmail, fixed procedural votes and veiled threats. There are leg-breakings carried out by managers against their own players and stories planted in the press. The whole undertaking is a glorious paean to the insane circus around football, a reminder of quite how awful the world’s favourite sport is – and how awesome. It throws light on how clubs owned by men who often have blood on their hands and tuning into World Cups hosted by regimes complicit in hateful policies and abuses of power. El Presidente is a charming reminder of football’s realpolitik.
Performances and direction
Though it is considered a miniseries, the storyline is fun, quick-paced, and concrete. The ugly side of the beautiful game is entertainingly laid bare in El Presidente (Amazon Prime Video): a docu-drama where silky skills come to a distant runner-up to filthy lucre. As is spelt out early in this giddy, gossipy romp: “It’s not about who plays best, about who pays best.” Karla Souza, who has a lead role after How To Get Away With Murder fits perfectly in the role of Rosario and so does Andres Parra, who plays Sergio Jadue, our protagonist. El Presidente, which is being produced by Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larraín and directed by Birdman co-writer Armando Bo, have done a fantastic job by backing a project that is clearly high on value and interest. The rest of the cast too have done a great job when it comes to playing corrupt football officials. Pablo Escobar's El Patrón del Mal‘s Andrés Parra and Sin Nombre‘s Paulina Gaitán too are seen in some notable performances.
Music and other departments
There are several Spanish songs being played in the backdrop of the biographical satire film and it is quite soothing to the ears. For a show that is high on drama, the songs seem quite befitting. The screenplay too is quite fast-paced and it keeps you engrossed and wanting for more.
For football fans, this show is a great watch. It shows some behind-the-scenes happening of the biggest sporting events in the world. Also, now that sporting events have been cancelled due to the Corona Pandemic, this show might help reminisce the football matches.
This show is strictly for football fans. For those who don't follow football or have any idea about the happenings at FIFA or South American-European football rivalry, this show might not seem interesting.
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