It’s almost one year away from FOX’s maiden voyage broadcasting the World Cup, and some of their early plans in advance of the tournament are being revealed. In a pitch to advertisers at upfronts, Jamie Horowitz revealed that FS1 is planning on airing a soccer documentary and docu-series in advance of the tournament.
Horowitz wrapped his pitch with a preview of the documentary “Push Forward,” a film about the November 2016 plane crash that killed all but three members of the Chapecoense (Brazil) soccer team. As the club rebuilds itself from the ashes of the catastrophe, the players learn that they will have to fly back to Medellín for an important match — the very same destination the doomed airliner was headed last fall. At present, the plan is to premiere “Push Forward” at the Toronto Film Festival in September, after which it will air on FS1.
“Phenoms,” a docu-series chronicling some 60 soccer players as they try to earn a spot on their respective national teams, is also in the works. The project will serve as a precursor of sorts to Fox Sports’ inaugural presentation of the FIFA Men’s World Cup in the summer of 2018.
While these projects are aping ESPN’s 30 for 30: Soccer Stories that they aired in the buildup to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, it’s nice to see FOX investing resources in documentary filmmaking, especially in soccer, and these projects do sound intriguing. Push Forward will be more than likely the first film made about the horrific crash involving Chapecoense and the story itself lends to becoming a great documentary subject. The docu-series following players as they try to make their country’s respective World Cup rosters also sounds fascinating.
FOX does have some experience with documentary style programming on soccer, as seen with Being:Liverpool, which is now amazingly almost five years old. And while one wouldn’t normally associate FOX Sports with 30 for 30 style documentaries, it is a positive development to see them investing in these areas in advance of the World Cup.
FOX does have a fair few skeptics of their soccer coverage, and maybe these two projects will help win some of them over in advance of the World Cup in June of 2018.