Football, or soccer, is becoming vastly popular in the United States. The successes of the national side as well as Major League Soccer has brought new generations of fans who are more and more engaged with the sport at home and abroad.
The television audiences for domestic and international games continues to rise and since the law changes of 2018 relating to sports gambling, more people are legally allowed to take part in football betting across the United States.
As well as enjoying the game there are plenty of fantastic movies based on the sport which everyone should find time to watch.
Bend it like Beckham
The highest grossing football film of all time is a great motivator for female footballers who have always faced discrimination and many barriers to participate in the sport.
Bend it like Beckham, released in 2002, follows an 18-year-old British Indian Sikh girl in London called Jess. Her older sister is preparing for an Indian wedding and a stereotypical future while Jess dreams of emulating her hero David Beckham by playing professional football.
Her parents are against her involvement in football and feel it is to protect her rather than hold her back from the sport she loves. She meets Jules Paxton, played by Kiera Knightly, who sees her playing in a park one day and invites her to join her semi-pro side. Jess has to hide her matches from her parents, as well as her romantic feelings for her coach.
The film is a light-hearted comedy which also tackles racial and gender stereotypes, while leaving you laughing and smiling after.
Mike Bassett: England Manager
One of the funniest British football films ever made. Ricky Tomlinson plays the unlikely coach called up to take on the role as England manager amidst a lack of suitable targets for the Football Association.
This is a comedy of errors in the style of a mocumentary where the new England manager goes from disaster to disaster as the old -fashioned, out of touch manager seems well over his head.
He builds a team of hot-headed players who he’s come across throughout his career, while also accidentally calling up Benson and Hedges after writing his squad list on the back of a cigarette packet. His backroom staff are not exactly well equipped or even all that supportive throughout the film.
He takes the country through their World Cup campaign and with many ups and down, Mike Bassett does all he can to bring pride to the country and success to the side, even if his ideas may not be all that well thought out.
Based on the novel by Nick Hornby of the dame name, Fever Pitch follows Paul as he juggles his role as a teacher, a new relationship and his passion for Arsenal which fill his time on each on matchday.
This 1997 film stars Colin Firth as Paul Ashworth and the film cultivates with the real-life events of Arsenals 1988/89 season with a last-minute goal from Michael Thomas giving Arsenal the 2-0 win they needed to secure the title.
Fever Pitch is perfect for the football fan, as well as the movie buff, who can enjoy the touchingly awkward and emotionally genuine performances and dialogue which often speculates the possible unhealthy nature of extreme fandom.
If there was ever a player who had a career and life destined for the cinematic stage, it was Diego Maradona. The Argentine sensation was not only one of the greatest players to ever live but one of the biggest personalities, most troubled, while loved by his supporters to levels barely ever seen before.
Maradona opens up on his life with Emir Kusturica, who follows him around Buenos Aires in an in-depth and informative documentary. Some of the less savoury details of his troubled off-the-field life are glossed over though this is redeemed by some wonderfully brilliant scenes.
He was a man known beyond his footballing ability, even as one of the greats of the game he was more than a player, he was an icon in Argentina and to all that follow football.
The Damned United
Brian Clough was a legend of the game and remembered for his volatile and eccentric temperament as much as he is for his achievements in the game.
The Damned United follows his 44 days as manager of Leeds United in 1974. This time in charge has been one of the most notorious and controversial managerial spells in British football history.
He was a successful manager but unpopular amongst Leeds supporters and players for his previous rivalry with the side in his other roles. This mixed with his abrasive style of management led to fallout in the dressing room and his eventual sacking just over a month into the job.
It is a fascinating account of an incredible time in English football. Martin Sheen perfectly portrays Clough’s tough time in the role and is well worth watching for any football fan.
Sport and film go so well together, and these films, as well as many others, are well worth searching out.