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Throwback to the Caterham - Forza Rossa deal in 2014, in which Ecclestone played a big role (Very long read)
I will not do a TL;DR because it simply cannot be done more than the title says. If you have trouble sleeping, read it. AND READ THE NOTES AT THE END FIRST
The ties are maintained by greedy ministers, controversial oligarchs, dentists who have become trusted people, floor washers turned overnight into Directors of Formula 1 teams, plus two key figures: Bernie Ecclestone, the 83-year-old with a fortune of nearly $5 billion, and Victor Ponta, Romania's 42-year-old prime minister (ages in 2014), passionate about motorsports. One of the most influential people on the planet, Ecclestone is turning his favorite toy, Formula 1, to eastern Europe in search of new sources of income, regardless of color and smell. Ponta needs such a toy for which he is willing to pay, but not out of his own pocket.
Old Romulus Kolles, real name Colesnic, laughs at the rumor that he was Ceausescu's dentist. "I was a mechanic, I finished Polytechnic." His son, Calin, or Colin as he is known in Formula 1, with whom he emigrated in the 1980s to Germany, is a dentist by profession, but for a while he works as a "firefighter" in the sport transformed by Bernie Ecclestone in his own business. He saves teams," says the proud father. For the past 9 years, Colin has been director of Jordan, Midland, Spyker, HRT F1 Team and Force India. Of those, only the last one still existed in 2014 in Formula 1, and Kolles' reputation certainly is not one commensurate with his father's praise.
The story begins with the two Kolles, or Colesnic, as you prefer, because they hold the key to Romania's entry into Formula 1. They are the turntable between Ecclestone and the crew supported by Victor Ponta.
Let's go back in time by 10 years.
The ProSport reporter asks: "How did your son get into Formula One?"
"I can't tell you.", Romulus Kolles said, but fatherly pride takes control of the tongue: "A Russian billionaire came to visit us. We asked him to do a Formula 3 team and he said he will not do that. He said to Colin: . My son bought Jordan . The Russian locked his son in a room with all the papers. For months, he checked all the papers. Then he took Jordan and... This Russian had a Ukrainian partner, a university professor. He didn't like Formula 1. The Russian was a smart man. A smart Jew. I'm not Jewish, but I esteem them."
The Russian billionaire Kolles senior is talking about is Alex Shnaider, a Canadian billionaire born in Leningrad 43 years ago but settled in Toronto after his family initially emigrated to Israel. A business partner with Donald Trump, Shnaider bought the Jordan team in 2004 for $60 million, and Kolles was appointed director. The first Russian Formula 1 team launched their car in Moscow's Red Square and scored 12 points in 2005. In 2006, renamed Midland F1 Racing, the team did not produce any more points, and at the end of the year the Russian-Canadian businessman exited Formula 1, selling the team/spot for $102 million. $42 million more in less than two years!
Alex Shnaider has a fortune estimated by Forbes at $1.5 billion in real estate and metallurgical industry. Kolles senior is right. In 2004, Shnaider had a Ukrainian associate, Eduard Sifrin, a university professor. Meanwhile, the two broke business ties. Sifrin remained with 1.6 million square meters of commercial, residential and hotel spaces in Russia, and Shnaider took over the business part of Canada and the Dominican Republic.
Like other Russian oligarchs, Shnaider got rich overnight in President Boris Yeltsin's tenure from the privatisations of the remaining industrial colossus legacy after the breakup of the USSR. Coincidentally or not, the marketing director of Midland F1 Racing was named Boris Yeltsin junior, grandson of the former Russian president.
Shnaider's image is not impeccable. He was accused of giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to Moscow police to put pressure on a business partner. Islamist media speak of his ties to Mossad, the Israeli secret service, and conspiracy theorists suspect the recruitment of two major pawns in the collapse of the World Trade Center towers on September 11, 2001.
What was Alex Shnaider, a controversial billionaire, doing in the Kolles family home in 2004? Colin was involved in several Formula 3 projects, but nothing of the scale sought by Shnaider. The explanation came right out of Bernie Ecclestone's mouth: "I feel a little guilty that I advised Shnaider to buy Jordan," the Formula 1 master said in February 2006. So the billionaire visited the Kolles family on Ecclestone's advice. But what relationship did the Romanian-Germans have with the most influential man in motorsports to be recommended by the man nicknamed El Supremo?
According to the statements, Kolles is handled by Ecclestone, a disclosure containing a significant dose of conflict of interest and influence peddling. Why does the F1 boss need a team director that he places as a chess pawn in some hot areas of the phenomenon?
Bernie Ecclestone is the emperor who has been leading Formula 1 since the late '70s, the auto-moto version of Sepp Blatter, the FIFA president increasingly accused of corruption in recent years. The son of an English goon, a former director of the Brabham Formula 1 team, Ecclestone built his position in sport by controlling TV rights: 47 percent of the money went to the teams, 30 percent to the FIA, and 23 percent went into the F1 boss's pocket.
"Abuse of influence in Formula 1 is huge. It's a lot of business. You know, it's not what you see on TV that's Formula 1. There are other things, many. If I wrote a book about what's in there, you'd be scared." - Romulus Kolles, November 2014.
In 2006, the investment giant CVC Capital Partners bought all Formula 1 Group shares, including Bernie Ecclestone's share, from the market. After trying to bribe the officials of the German bank Bayerische Landesbank to sell their shares to CVC, the head of F1 bought shares in the newly established firm Alpha Prema that controls the Grand Circus.
During the trial, Ecclestone was accused of bribing three team executives, Eddie Jordan, Alain Prost and Tom Walkinshaw, $10 million each to sign the new TV rights agreement.
Accused by German prosecutors of paying $44 million in bribes to Gerhard Gribkowsky, a former director at Bayerische LB, Ecclestone escaped conviction by paying $100 million to Bavaria. During the trial, Gribkowsky told investigators that Ecclestone had tricked the British IRS by avoiding paying nearly $1.5 billion in taxes, a third of his estimated wealth in 2013.
A possible explanation for tax evasion ignored by the UK authorities can be found in a case in 1997 under Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair.
The Blair government's drastic tobacco advertising policy suffered a sudden sweetening after a secret donation by Ecclestone to the Labour Party. Ecclestone needed major F1 tobacco sponsors and had ways to get government favors, too. Health Minister Tessa Jowell, later secretary of state for sports, was also involved in the scandal. Her husband had worked for Ecclestone. Following British media pressure, the Labourists revealed they had received a £1 million donation from Ecclestone. Tony Blair publicly apologized for the scandal, but lied about making the decision. After the term ended, the internal memos from 10 Downing Street showed that the change in tobacco advertising policy was taken immediately after meeting Ecclestone.
17 years after the scandal in which he took the Prime Minister and the Social Health Worker in the UK, the head of F1 turned to the Social Democrat government in Romania. In December 2013, Ecclestone announced the opening of the Formula 1 gates for new teams. In the first wave of registrations appeared Forza Rossa, a project led in plain sight by Ion Bazac, a former Minister of Health, with controversial relations inside the Social Democrat Party from Romania, and supported from the shadows by Prime Minister Victor Ponta through the current Minister of Health, Nicolae Bănicioiu. The interface between Ecclestone and the Romanian part is provided by Colin Kolles. "In the FIA app, Colin's name appears because he got all the approvals from Ecclestone," reveals Romulus Kolles, father of the "firefighter" Colin.
Here are the main events in 2013-14. It helps us to better understand the behind-the-scenes of the case.
December 2013: Ecclestone announces FIA awaits new teams in Formula 1
February 2014: A delegation led by Nicolae Banicioiu, Minister of Youth and Sport of Romania, meets in Geneva with FIA representatives
April 2014: Ecclestone announces the filing of the files of two teams: HAAS and Forza Rossa, and says the FIA wants to accept them.
June 2014: Ecclestone says the new projects submitted have been accepted by the FIA.
June 2014: Forza Rossa announces that the team director will be Colin Kolles.
July 2014: Romulus Kolles is appointed director of Caterham Sports Limited.
July 2014: Constantin Cojocar, a former footballer at Steaua Bucharest, arrives at the Caterham factory in Leafield, who is employed as a carer. Cojocar was hired to clean the factory.
July 2014: 40 employees at the Caterham factory in Leafield are sacked by new investors and are suing the company.
September 2014: Cojocar is appointed director and sole shareholder in Caterham in place of Romulus Kolles.
October 2014: Cojocar officially introduces Caterham into insolvency.
October 2014: Although Colin Kolles denies he is behind Cojocar, and Engavest announces that he has sold Caterham, the former footballer admits that his boss is Kolles.
October 2014: The international media takes possession of Cojocar's statements before the Supreme Court in London in which he says the Caterham factory is going to draw and build cars for Caterham and Forza Rossa. Kolles is suspected of wanting to secure Caterham's assets for Forza Rossa at a reduced price.
October 2014: Forza Rossa announces that it has nothing to do with Kolles' involvement at Caterham and that he is still awaiting official confirmation from the FIA regarding his participation in the 2015 F1 season.
November 2014: Caterham does not participate in F1 races in Austin and Interlagos. Marussia is in the same situation.
November 2014: Court administrators at Caterham claim they have received offers to sell the F1 team.
November 2014: FIA announces the provisional list for the 2015 season. Forza Rossa wasn't on the list. The final list is expected to be announced on November 30, the date by which new teams must pay $518,000.
November 2014: Caterham's judicial administrators launch a fundraising campaign for the team to participate in the last race of the season in Abu Dhabi. In the first 24 hours, they raise £400,000, and Bernie Ecclestone condemns the initiative.
And now, let's dive deeper into this complicated story
On 2 June 2014, renowned F1 journalist Adam Cooper wrote that the FIA had accepted the Forza Rossa dossier, a team to be led by Ion Bazac, "the president of a consortium of private and state investors whose reason is to promote Romania's interests and which has the support of the government". Immediately after this information emerged, Bogdan Sonea, marketing director of Forza Rossa, told the romanian website Gandut that the project is "entirely private".
Things don't add up. At the end of February, the then Minister of Youth and Sport, current Minister of Health, Nicolae Banicioiu, had met with representatives of FIA in Vallery, near Geneva. The reason for the visit was, according to another renowned journalist, Joe Saward, to present the file to FIA engineers led by technical director Bernard Niclot.
If the project is "entirely private," what did a minister look for visiting the FIA to expose the technical details of some Formula 1 car? If the answer is "promoting Romania's interests", then why the information that Nicolae Banicioiu is lobbying for a project of national interest did not appear on the Ministry's website?
If Banicioiu is the "right hand" of the current Socialist Democrat Party leader Victor Ponta, the man who runs the project, Ion Bazac, is a businessman brought into politics in 2000 by former Socialist Democrat Party chief Adrian Nastase, who also recruited Ponta politically.
A former Employee of the World Bank, Bazac is a capitalist who has fallen at one point into the clutches of social democracy. He has several apartments in Monaco, has Ferrari's franchise for Romania and Moldova and runs his business with his wife Camelia through the holding company Forza Rossa, an offshore firm that has the registration address in a mailbox in Nicosia, Cyprus. Ion Bazac and Camelia Bazac have an estimated fortune of 15-16 million euros by Forbes magazine. Both were doctors, but in 2005 they were granted the right to import the Ferrari brand into Romania.
In June, all Forza Rossa employees declared, black on white, that the project would be led by Colin Kolles. On October 30, after the start of the ProSport investigation, they said: "We have no agreement with Colin Kolles at the moment." Untrue! According to Romulus Kolles, Colin is listed in Forza Rossa's application at the FIA.
But what links Ion Bazac and Colin Kolles, Ecclestone's trusted man? According to Joe Saward, if he enters Formula 1, Forza Rossa will use the technical facilities of the Kolles family in the Bavarian town of Greding. From here Romulus and Colin Kolles coordinate the activities of their Lotus Kodewa team in the World Endurance Championship.
The key is Lotus, the British manufacturer of cars and motorcycles. The Kolles family is the official Lotus importer, Ion Bazac is also the official Lotus importer. In 2012, Bazac, the Romanian businessman opened the world's first Lotus Originals store in Monte Carlo, and the ribbon was cut by Prince Albert of Monaco himself.
Therefore, the team suspected of fueling the money of Romanian citizens, Forza Rossa submitted its application for entry into Formula 1. But what is the participation cost?
Given that it's a small team, the spending is comparable to those at Caterham. The British team's latest accounting balance shows that in 2012 spending on a season was $73 million: $27 million on staff costs, $27 million on research and $19 million on administrative costs. If Forza Rossa wanted to build a team from scratch, tens of millions of dollars were added at the end of the line for the car and equipment. If, however, the Romanian project takes over the assets of another team, the costs decrease. How competitive a team can be that competes with slow cars taken from others and repainted is another discussion. In Formula 1, small teams know their place, but money has to flow.
Coincidentally, in June, after Ecclestone announced acceptance of the Forza Rossa project, Colin Kolles, the man who is to become the team's director, returned to Formula 1 as an advisor to Caterham, a team bought by Engavest, a mysterious "Swiss-Arab" company. Hence begins the fast moving of the events leading to the conclusion that the British team Caterham was sacrificed by Ecclestone to make way for the Romanian low cost project supported by Victor Ponta, the Romanian Prime Minister.
To resume it a bit: Colin Kolles' first move was the appointment of his father, Romulus, as director. Then was Constantin Cojocar, a former team-mate of Hagi at Steaua in the spring of 1988, former bus station chief in Brasov, who posted a CV on the Internet announcing that he wanted an unskilled worker position abroad. Coming to the Caterham factory in Leafield as a caretaker, Cojocar became a director and shareholder of the firm in just one month, in place of Kolles senior, while another 40 employees, mainly engineers, were fired. The fired officials immediately sued the company.
In a discussion with ProSport reporters on 31 October 2004, Romulus Kolles revealed that he had paid three Romanians, including former footballer Cojocar, to spy on employees at the Caterham factory. A few days later, Kolles senior told ProSport: "We kicked 40 employees out because there are 300, sir, and they do nothing except drink coffee all day. I have written data, I have information. There's pictures of them sitting for coffee instead of producing. Yes, it was a an easy life at Caterham. One night there were over 80 people on the computers and sometimes the power went out and they didn't do anything. In England, you get paid after you produce."
After finishing his job as a "carer" and "spy", Cojocar was appointed director by Colin Kolles – a fact recognized in an interview for ProSport – and put the company into insolvency. According to financial experts consulted by ProSport, insolvency is a perfectly legal way to reduce a company's liabilities. Caterham had debts of 23 million debts and if someone from the outside who wants to take over the team at a reduced price manages to infiltrate the company, insolvency is the cheap solution.
The situation was summed up at the end of October 2014 by Racecar Engineering, the world's leading motorsport technology magazine: "Caterham is now on sale, and all the pieces Forza Rossa needs will be sold at a low price."
Definitely, Forza Rossa will compete with already used cars, let's call them secondhand. "Romania does not have the technology to build a Formula 1 car. If Forza Rossa intended to do this, we would have found out from the distributors. The cable part comes only from the US, UK or France, tanks are made only in the UK, gearbox in the UK or Austria. No one has given any signal in the market that they want new products," British journalist Sam Collins explained.
At the Supreme Court in London, Constantin Cojocar, the newly appointed director of Caterham, said: "I bought Caterham Sports with the intention of drawing and building cars for Caterham and Forza Rossa." "He bought" = he was named by Colin Kolles as director. The problem is that the "Romanian investors" who had to pay down Caterham's debts stopped paying, Cojocar argues. (what happened was that soon after the Prime Minster of Romania said the Government isn't involved in any way and no public money were to be spent, official papers submitted to FIA were published by the media. The Prime Minster himself and one Minster from his Cabinet have signed the papers and they committed to invest public money into the team. The day after, Forza Rossa made an official statement saying that they need another call of confirmation from FIA - they already had the file approved, this was just the bailout -. Ofc, the new confirmation didn't came, FIA didn't needed to do it again. So Forza Rossa didn't paid the entry fee).
This is where the corruption that Kolles senior was talking about comes into action again. Having prepared Plan A at Caterham, Colin Kolles and the people at Forza Rossa can easily turn to plan B. Even C or D. The financial crisis in Formula 1 allows them.
The surprise could've come from the Russian team Marussia who had just announced that they were severing their work and laid off 200 employees. According to F1 specialists, Marussia is a cheaper option than Caterham, where Kolles is fighting former owner Tony Fernandes. "By the first tests in 2015 there are 10 weeks left, and the Marussia is slightly better than Caterham. The important work on the Marussia MR03 model is already done. Adaptations for the Ferrari engine, transmission, regular chassis, aerodynamic tests. Kolles has nothing to do but a discreet redesign. He's done that before with the HRT F1 team. Caterham uses Renault engines. If Forza Rossa wants Ferrari engines, working on Marussia chassis will be easier," says Sam Collins. Outside the Marussia plan, Kolles has two other options: Sauber and Force India, teams that were in great financial difficulty. Marussia is a bargain, the other two cost.
Mid November 2014, FIA announced the provisional list of teams for 2015. Caterham and Marussia were on the list, but no Forza Rossa. At this point, Romanians decided to back down because everything transpired in the media. With an approved file to join, they took the easy way out. They didn't paid the entry fee of $518.000 by November 30.
Constantin Cojocar was targeted by an investigation in the UK following the events. Last thing I knew about it was from 2016. I have no idea what happened to him.
\this is a translation of the investigation work made by the journalist Costin Stucan*
\I have modified the text to give it more sense, but I haven't changed the narrative*
\A lot of the article has been cut because it involved too much politics and corruption*
\Even if I cut like 25% of the article, there's till much politics involved. Because that's how F1 works. If I would've removed it completely, this would had zero logic*
\There are 4 or more articles about this matter. The interview with Cojocar is very good. He is a simple and ... quite stupid individual. So he told everything with a sincerity of a 5 years old child. If you are interested in that, let me know and I will translate*
\First events regarding Jordan and the entering of Kolles occur in ~2004. The Forza Rossa story is ~2013-2014. Don't get confused by that. You will get confused anyway by the names*
\If any mistakes slipped in or if it's something that you cannot understand (doesn't make sense), let me know and I will sort it out. On such a long text, I am sure I fucked up many times*
\Even if everything colapsed in a mater of hours, 50M EUR were transferred from Romania to some Swiss account for Forza Rossa's beginning in F1. No one knows anything about the whereabouts of the money.*
\I might do more edits on the text for formatting or other grammatical errors. I'm sorry, English is not my native language and I've never studied it. I've learned it on my own and I lack a lot of stuff still.*
[OC] Are you horribly bored? Are your weekends now hollow without football? Are you fed up with angrily debating what might happen to football leagues across the world? Perhaps this could help a little – I made a list of over 100 football documentaries to help pass the time.
13-part series on the history of football1: Origins
2: Football Cultures
3: Evolution of the European game
4: European Superpowers
6: South American Superpowers
7: For Club and Country
8: The Dark Side
12: A Game for All
”Football’s Greatest” SeriesBefore the 2010 World Cup there was a series called Football's Greatest. A bunch of 30-minute episodes about the 20 or so greatest players ever. Richard Keys, who isn’t exactly the most popular figure these days, is the narrator, but he sticks to the script and doesn’t detract from the episodes. Here are the ones I can find on Youtube. Since this was made in 2010 both Messi and Ronaldo appear in “The Contenders” episode – basically an episode on all the players who narrowly missed the cut. Also, if you just enter “Football’s greatest” into youtube you’ll see videos for more players than are covered in this list.
The Contenders: The great players who didn't quite make the cut of top 25 best ever
Ronaldo Luiz Nazario
Marco van Basten
Alfredo di Stefano
Football’s Greatest International Teams
West Germany 1972-74.
The World CupNorth Korea: The Game of their Lives – Superb documentary on the 1966 North Korea team and their incredible upset over Italy.
Kevin Allen’s World Cup Video Diary – An excellent fly-on-the-wall documentary showing the fans side of Italia 90. Allen is an England fan and this traces his experience in Italy during the tournament and captures what it was like to follow England in a major tournament during a time when English teams were banned from European competitions.
One Night in Turin - Follows England's fairytale run to the semi-finals of Italia 90 and the problems between English fans and Italian police whilst abroad. Available on UK Netlfix. I live in the US currently and it is difficult to find online. If someone finds on online version I would be grateful.
Les Bleus - Wonderful documentary that parallels the turbulence of both French football and French society between 1996 and 2016. Available on US Netflix.
Becoming Champions - Very detailed 8-part series on each of the nations to have won a World Cup. Available on US Netflix.
G’ole, Official Movie of the 1982 World Cup - Narrated by Sean Connery. Available for free on US Amazon Prime.
Hero, Official Movie of the 1986 World Cup - Narrated by Michael Caine. Available for free US Amazon Prime.
BBC review of Italia 90
BBC review of USA 94.
All goals of France 98.
Ronaldo’s Redemption – Four years on from the heartbreak of France 98, the world’s best player made an extraordinary comeback.
World Cup Heaven and Hell - Fun documentary on some of the worst scandals to have ever hit the World Cup.
World Cup Goals Galore - Goofy BBC show narrated by comedian Sean Lock on some of the best goals ever scored at the World Cup.
ITV's Top 50 World Cup Goals.
Four 'Top 20' documentaries made by ITV in the early 2010s.These are a little Anglo-centric but good watches to familiarize yourself with football's biggest events.
20 Goals that Shook the World
20 Managerial Appointments that Shook the World
20 Transfers that Shook the World
20 Refereeing Decisions that Shook the World
ITV's top 50 Champions League Goals - This was made around 2011/12 so it's a bit dated, but still an easy watch.
From Around the GlobeNext Goal Wins - If you ask me to recommend only one documentary from this list, I would choose this one. This film looks at the plight of the infamous American Samoan football team during the 2000s and their quest to no longer be the worst team on the planet. One of the most heartwarming documentaries I’ve ever seen. Available in HD on Amazon Prime for $5 too.
The Other Final - On the same day as the 2002 World Cup final is taking place "The Other Final" is also played. An exhibition game set up by a couple of Dutch film makers between the World's two lowest ranked sides, Bhutan and Montserrat. Very heartwarming and uplifting.
A Fragile Dream: Football and Hope on the Streets of Rio – An intimate look into Rio’s favelas and how football is used as a social tool.
Tragedy to Triumph: The Story of Zambian Football. In 1993 a plane carrying the Zambian national football team crashed into the Atlantic, killing all on board. In 2012, Zambia won the African Cup of Nations. This brilliant watch traces Zambian football from disaster to triumph.
Socrates and the Corinthians Democracy - The story of Socrates, the intellectual Brazilian genius of a footballer who helped implement a democracy at Corinthians in the 1980's, a stark contrast to the military regime in Brazil at the time.
Faces of Africa: King George Serves his Country – The story of George Weah, from poverty to football superstar to Liberian presidency.
Asia’s Notorious Match Fixers – Indonesia and the Philippines are not the first place one thinks of when thinking about football. But this thorough documentary goes undercover into the shady and bizarre world of match fixing across these nation’s leagues, and how certain authorities have a firm vice on the outcome of football here.
Maradona by Kusturica – Pioneering look into the life of Diego Maradona.
Johan Cruyff - En Un Momento Dado - Documentary on the influence and genius of Johan Cruyff in Barcelona during the 70s. An excellent in depth look into one of football's most unique men.
Coach Zoran and his African Tigers - Fantastic documentary equal parts tragic and comedic that follows the national team of South Sudan after their independence in 2011 following the longest civil war in African history. Not just a movie about the birth of a new national football team, but also about the birth of a new nation.
Once in a Lifetime: The extraordinary story of the New York Cosmos - Great documentary that follows the rise and fall of the New York Cosmos, the superstar heavy NASL team in America during the 70's and 80's who of course featured the legendary Pele.
A Nation’s Glory – Behind the scenes look at the US Women’s Team run to the 2019 World Cup trophy.
Planet FIFA - Corruption, scandal, deceit. An in-depth look into the origins and growth of FIFA and their intertwining with Swiss banks. A concerning feature into football’s governing body. Available for free on US Amazon Prime.
Take The Ball Pass the Ball - A brilliant piece from Copa 90 about the team that changed football for good in the 21st century: Pep Guardiola's 2008-13 Barcelona side. Featuring behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with players, it is a great watch. Available on Amazon Prime.
Puskas Hungary - Biographical documentary about one of football's greatest players, the brilliant Hungarian Ferenc Puskas. Wonderful look into a man who achieved near god-like status in 1950s Hungary. This used to be on Dailymotion but I can no longer find it. It’s a brilliant watch and I’d be grateful if anyone found an online link.
Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait - A dozen or so camera's focus solely on ZInedine Zidane for 90 minutes. A very intriguing watch.
ESPN 30 for 30 DocumentariesESPN’s “30 for 30” series have largely been outstanding documentaries.
The Two Escobars - In my opinion the best 30 for 30 ESPN have ever done and perhaps the best football documentary period. Award winning and critically praised it chronicles the intertwining stories of Andres and Pablo Escobar; One a humble footballer, one a notorious Colombian drug lord. Pablo Escobar's grip over Colombian culture during the 1980s extended all the way into football, and this film reveals the often tricky situation Colombia found themselves in during this time. Andres Escobar infamously scored an own goal to knock Colombia out of the 1994 World Cup, and was murdered a few weeks later in Colombia at a bar in cartel related activity. I have linked to a youtube link that allows you to buy the documentary. It is also available for $1.99 on Amazon Prime. Search “ESPN 30 for 30” and select Season 1, Episode 27. It won numerous awards and is a truly extraordinary film.
Hillsborough – Outstanding and utterly harrowing documentary on the Hillsborough disaster. The best I’ve seen recounting those tragic events.
White, Blue and White - The story of Ossie Ardilles and Ricky Villa, two Argentines who played in England during the Falklands war of 1982.
Maradona 86 - The heroics of Diego Maradona at the 86 World Cup.
The Oppostion - Chronicles the scenes that took place in 1973 Chile after Augusto Pinochet took power. Chile, the Soviet Union and FIFA are all involved in one of football's darkest moments.
Ceasfire Massacre - Set to the backdrop of The Troubles in Northern and the Republic of Ireland. There was a horrifying massacre at a pub in Ireland where fans were watching the Republic in the 94 World Cup. Another great watch.
The Myth of Garrincha - Very moving story of Brazilian hero Garrincha, football's most flawed genius, and arguably football's most intriguing figure. u/MarcoshLA is also the director!
Mysteries of the Jules Rimet trophy - The story of football's holy grail, the Jules Rimet trophy, is an incredible one. FIFA, the Nazis, a dog, Bobby Moore, and thieves in Rio all play roles in this story.
Barbosa: The man who made Brazil cry - The sad story of Brazilian 1950 goalkeeper Barbosa, who was blamed for Brazil's shock loss to Uruguay in Rio de Janerio that year.
English/Scottish FootballOrient for a Fiver – “You, you little cunt, when I tell you to do something, and you, you fucking big cunt, when I tell you to do something, do it. And if you come back at me, we'll have a fucking right sort-out in here. All right? And you can pair up if you like, and you can fucking pick someone else to help you, and you can bring your fucking dinner. 'Cos by the time I've finished with you, you'll fucking need it." - The now classic fly-on-the-wall documentary following Leyton Orient during their disastrous 1994-95 campaign in England’s Second Division. The Club, dealing with severe financial difficulties hired John Sitton as manager the previous season, and this charts Sitton’s descent into Orient hell as his now legendary half-time rants get increasingly more bizarre, funny, and bleak.
Liverpool vs Manchester United: Us and Them – Fans on both sides of the divide of English football’s biggest rivalry take you through just what this match means.
Sheffield United: Promoted. I watched this recently and was pleasantly surprised by this excellent NBC look into what Sheffield United’s promotion meant to its supporters.
Football’s Fight Club – Hooliganism: the dark side of English football during the 1980s. This looks at the rise of this culture and how it culminated in the tragedy of Heysel 1985. An important and harrowing watch.
Heysel 1985: Requiem for a Cup Final – English football’s biggest scourge – hooliganism – comes to a tragic head with the events of May 25, 1985.
The Class of 92 – The still famous documentary charting Manchester United's youth prospects of 1992 who went on to establish a period of United domination.
Keane and Vieira: Best of Enemies – Chronicles the heated rivalry between two of the Premier League's greatest players, Man Utd's Roy Keane and Arsenal's Patrick Vieira.
An Impossible Job – A remarkable fly-on-the-wall documentary following England’s ill-fated qualification for the 1994 World Cup under Graham Taylor. Equal parts darkly funny as it is tragic, this documentary has an enduring legacy in English football, and some would argue has unfairly tarnished the reputation of a great man.
Busby, Stein, and Shankly – A provocative look at the lives of three legendary scots, whose managerial achievements changed English football forever.
The Crazy Gang – The infamous 1987-88 Wimbledon team, known as much for their brutal challenges as for their football. This goes behind the scenes for a personal look into the lives of the players of this infamous team.
Clough: The Greatest Manager England Never Had. Fabulous BBC documentary on British football’s most intriguing character – the enigmatic and legendary Brian Clough.
Lord of the Wing - 30 minute BBC documentary on Jimmy Johnstone, one of Scottish footballs greatest players. Features interviews with Brian Clough, Dennis Law, and Alex Ferguson.
Football’s Most Dangerous Rivalry. Vice documentary on the passions and hatred ignited by the Rangers-Celtic rivalry.
The Invincibles. Win the league without losing a match, a feat only done once in England since 1900. This is the story of Arsenal's legendary 2003/04 season. Must watch for all Arsenal fans.
The Four Year Plan – Can you take a club from near bankruptcy to the Premier League in four years. That was the plan for QPR’s new owners in 2007. Award winning documentary.
Bobby Robson: More than a Manager - The legendary Sir Bobby Robson. Diagnosed with cancer in 1995 he lived another 14 years, managing the whole time right at the pinnacle of football. His influence is still felt today in the dozens of managers currently coaching who all got their start under Sir Bobby. A gentle, kind, and funny man, this takes you behind the scenes into Robson's life, featuring never-before-seen footage and interviews with his family. Available on Netflix.
All or Nothing: Manchester City - A high production behind-the-scenes eight episode series looking at Manchester City's record breaking 100 point Premier League season in 2017/18. Narrated by Ben Kingsley and widely acclaimed, it is available on Amazon Prime.
Sunderland Till I Die - The classic eight part award winning series following Sunderland behind the scenes during their relegation from the Championship in 2017-18. Available on US Netflix.
89 – Interviews with former players and managers, this documentary relives the unbelievable end of the 1988-89 season between Liverpool and Arsenal. Available on US Netflix.
MoviesMike Bassett: England Manager – It’s quite simply the greatest football story ever told. Also available for free in HD on Amazon Prime.
Looking For Eric – A down on his luck Mancunian named Eric can’t catch a break in life. When things begin to go really awry for him he begins hallucinating the one man who could potentially help him – his idol, Eric Cantona. Moving, well acted, bleakly funny, even the hardest Scouser would enjoy this one.
The Firm - An actually good version of Green Street Hooligans. Starring Gary Oldman, this is the most in-depth movie depiction of football hooliganism during the 1980s. Has since become a cult classic.
Bend it Like Beckham - The timeless classic. Teenage hormones, cultural commentary, good laughs. Available on Amazon Prime for $3.99.
The Damned United - Based on David Peace’s famous novel, Michael Sheen is excellent as Brian Clough, English football’s legendary manager. This movie charts his rise with Derby County in the early 70s to his disaster with Leeds in 1974, along with his long time rivalry with Don Revie, and his long time friendship with Peter Taylor, excellently portrayed by Timothy Spall. On Amazon Prime for $3.99.
United - Television Film on the tragedy on the 1958 Munich Air Disaster which killed 23 passengers, including 8 members of the Manchester United first team. Starring David Tennant, this movie charts United’s rise from tragedy following 1958. Available for free on Amazon Prime.
Fever Pitch - Based on the best-selling novel of the same name Colin Firth takes us through the life of an Arsenal fan in the late 1980s. I cannot find this on Netflix or Amazon Prime but it's a great movie.
Escape to Victory - Michael Caine, Pele, and Sylvester Stallone team up as Allied POWs in a French prison during WW2 to beat their Nazi guards at footy and plan an elaborated scheme to escape. Available on Amazon Prime for $2.99
Goal – A poor Mexican kid risks it all to fulfill his dream of playing footy with a bunch of Geordies. Available for free on US Amazon Prime.
And lastly, don’t forget about that one time where Frodo inexplicably finds himself befriending West Ham Hooligans
Enjoy: If anyone is looking for recommendations, my top 5 personal recommendations are Next Goal Wins, The Two Escobars, Les Blues, Coach Zoran and his African Tigers, and Mike Bassett: England Manager.