Football Rebels - a must view for lovers of the game


Having premiered on Al Jazeera last night at 22:30GMT, Football Rebels is a new five-part documentary on five football heroes whose social consciences led them to use their fame and influence to challenge unjust regimes, join opposition movements and lead the fight for democracy and human rights in their countries.


Former Chelsea and Ivory Coast forward Didier Drogba was the focus of the first episode where it explored how Drogba helped the Ivory Coast team qualify for the 2006 world cup and then challenged President Gbagbo to end the civil war in his country.

Episode two looks at how, in 1958, AS Saint Etienne striker Rachid Mekhloufi stealthily left France to join the FLN football team and play for Algerian independence

The third episode shows how in the midst of the civil war in the former Yugoslavia, then Yugoslav star Predrag Pasic started a multi-ethnic football school in the besieged city of Sarajevo.

The fourth episode follows the journey of Chilean player Carlos Caszely, whose support for murdered president Salvador Allende led to his persecution by General Pinochet’s regime in the 70s.

The final episode looks back at the Brazilian dictatorship of the early 1980s and how Socrates, the midfield maestro and Brazilian captain, turned every Corinthians’ match into a political meeting for democracy.

The series is narrated by the infamous Eric Cantona, and commenting on Football Rebels the Frenchman says: “Football is more than the opium of the people. It’s about good intentions, noble hearts… When your country’s at war, your friends are killing each other and children are given rifles rather than footballs, so what if the whole world admires you?”

In a time where Footballers earn enough in a few days to feed whole communities for years, and things like a snubbed hand shake cause world wide out cry, it takes a documentary like this to remind us just how powerful the game can be-and with a determination to pay back their good fortune, the positive effect those lucky enough to play the game at the highest level can have on the lives of so many and at times, nations as a whole.


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