Notes: Best and Worst soccer movies in 2020

best and worst of 2020

2020 has been a year we all want to forget. Many of us are isolating at home while the pandemic rages around most of the world. The market for home entertainment seemed to increase the number of soccer movies that were available online.

I was able to watch a couple of newer releases through virtual film festivals. If virtual film festivals catch on, perhaps it will be easier to see football films in a more timely manner. Such a change could be one of the few good things that come out of 2020.

I finally had to reverse my stand on reviewing streaming series. So many must-watch series were on Amazon, Netflix, and the new Apple TV+ platform that I had to give in to the growing consumer trend.

56 films watched in 2020

Thanks to the pandemic and not being able to go to the gym, eat out, go shopping, referee, or attend Quakes games, I reviewed about 56 films and series in 2020. This is a large increase from 43 films in 2019, 41 films in 2018, 35 films in 2017, and 20 movies in 2016.  Only 20 of the films that I watched this year  were NOT documentaries, which means that almost 2/3 of what I watched were documentaries.

As in 2018 and 2019, I assessed almost one-third of the films with a rating of 8 or above on a scale of 10. Bad films were far fewer this year: only 5, or 10%, received a Rating of 1 to 5. Following is a quick summary of the top- and bottom-rated films.

2020 Best Soccer Films:

Oscar statue

I don’t know if sheltering at home skewed my appreciation of football films, but I rated 12 of 56, or 21% of the shows at 9 or 10. Two documentaries earned a 10: ESPN’s The 99ers and Brazil’s Democracy in Black and White. Three series earned a rating of 9: the fabulous Ted Lasso , the almost prayerful Take Us Home: Leeds United, and the beginning of professional football in The English Game. Here are the top 12 movies I reviewed this year:

  • The 99ers (2013) – As the USWNT prepares for the 2019 Womens World Cup, the WWC 1999 champions share memories in a 20-year reunion
  • Democracia em Preto e Branco (Democracy in Black and White)(2014) – In 1984 there was a perfect storm of politics, futebol, and rock and roll.
  • Meninos de Kichute (2010) – A look back at Brazilian life in the 1970s, when kichute (soccer cleats) meant status
  • Streetball (2010) – An honest look at a team that competes in the Homeless World Cup
  • Una Meravigliosa Stagione Fallimentare (A Wonderful Season of Failure) (2015) – The town of Bari gets behind its team once the owners give up and leave
  • Soviet Football – The Untold Story (2017) – Everything you need to know about Soviet football in under an hour
  • Soccertown USA (2018) – Explains why so many US National Team players and referees came from New Jersey
  • Bigil (Whistle) (2019) – Be entranced as India’s high-powered star does it all: fight, play, dance, and act 2 roles.
  • Take Us Home: Leeds United (2019) – This docuseries follows the reinvigoration of Leeds United under Marcelo Bielsa
  • Ted Lasso (2020) – A comedic series that was just what the pandemic and Apple TV+ needed
  • The English Game (2020) – A dramatic series that imagines what the beginning of professional football was like
  • Yellow Cards for Equal Pay (2020) – An amazing short documentary by a high school girl about a high school girls team

2020 Worst Soccer Film:


The worst film I saw this past year was a drama from India  called Captain, but there were a few other films almost as bad.

Soccer Movies reviewed in 2020

This table lists all the football films reviewed this year. Within a numerical Rating, movies are sorted by release year and then by title.

Democracia em Preto e Branco (Democracy in Black and White)102014documentaryBRA
The 99ers102013documentaryUSA,ESPN
Una Meravigliosa Stagione Fallimentare (A Wonderful Season of Failure)92015documentaryItalian
Soviet Football – The Untold Story92017documentaryFRA,RUS
Soccertown USA92018documentaryUSA
Bigil (Whistle)92019dramaIndia
Take Us Home: Leeds United92019docuseriesBritish
Ted Lasso92020seriesUSA, British
The English Game92020seriesBritish,Scottish, Netflix
Yellow Cards for Equal Pay92020short documentaryUSA
Meninos de Kichute92010dramaBRA
The Great Game81953comedyBritish
Alive & Kicking: The Soccer Grannies of South Africa82016documentary, shortUSA,SA
Iron Men82017documentaryBritish
Cold Sweat82018dramaIran
Take the Ball Pass the Ball82018documentarySpain, British
Boisko Bezdomnych (The Outsiders)72008dramaPOL
Sleeping Giant72012documentaryBritish,India
Muerte o Gloria: The Rise of the American Soccer Fan72015documentary, shortUSA
The FIFA Family72017documentaryDEN
Sunderland ‘Til I Die72018documentaryBritish
The Keeper (Trautmann)72018drama,romanceGerman,British
Still Defending72019documentary, shortUSA
The Rhino Cup72019documentaryUSA,Africa
All or Nothing: Tottenham Hotspur72020docuseriesBritish
God Save the Wings72020documentaryUSA
The Arsenal Stadium Mystery61939suspenseBritish
The Naked Man in the Sports Field61974drama,comedyGER
Jason Marriner Football Hooligan62009documentaryBritish
Egaro the Eleven62011dramaIndia
Barbosa, the Man who Made Brazil Cry62014documentary, shortUSA,ESPN
Jules Rimet Trophy62014documentary, shortUSA,ESPN
The Myth of Garrincha62014documentary, shortUSA,ESPN
Streetkids United II: The Girls of Rio62015documentaryBritish,BRA,NED
Do You Want to Win?62017documentaryBritish
The El Paso Conquest62017documentaryUSA
Roma Story: Edin Džeko62020documentaryITA,Bosnia
Shooting for Socrates52014dramedyIrish
Zanzibar Soccer Dreams52016documentaryBritish, Africa
Hello Mr Billionaire52018comedyChinese
The Bromley Boys52018comedyBritish
Argentina Fútbol Club42010documentaryARG,USA
Linea de Cuatro (Back Four)42016dramaARG
The Wrong Student42017drama,suspenseUSA
Anelka: Misunderstood42020documentaryFrench

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