New Amazon series The President, a satire on FIFA scandal

While the family mourns him, a group of men take advantage of the funeral to share the loot of the man who lost his life. This scene could correspond to a classic movie about the Italian mafia. But no, this is the introduction to "The President", an original Amazon Prime Video series about the "FIFA Gate", the corruption scandal that stained world football in 2015 and whose ramifications are still under judicial investigation.

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The burial was not fictitious. It happened in July 2014 in Buenos Aires. Julio Grondona, veteran president of the Argentine Football Association (AFA) and number two of FIFA, had gone on to a better life.

Witnesses say that, while the funeral was taking place, Grondona's squires in the South American Confederation (CONMEBOL) negotiated how to give continuity to a machinery that collected millions of dollars in bribes in exchange for the transfer of television rights and marketing of continental tournaments of selections.

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"It is a parody of the business world of soccer and its history," Armando Bo, the series' Argentine director, said in an interview with The Associated Press. "With these characters running the world of football for 30 years and with this old level of handling things, improvisation ... it was like an opportunity to work on this fiction."

The eight-episode series, which opens worldwide this Friday, is one of the bets with which Amazon seeks to battle Netflix in the region.

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"El Presidente" is centered on Sergio Jadue, the young Chilean leader who jumped from the humble La Calera club to the presidency of the National Association of Professional Soccer (ANFP) and who, sponsored by Grondona, quickly learned the game of influences of power and corruption in the CONMEBOL and FIFA spheres.

Jadue, played by Colombian actor Andrés Parra (Pablo Escobar in “El Patron del Mal”), pleaded guilty before a United States court in late 2015. While awaiting sentencing, he collaborates with the FBI as a protected witness.

"This character who comes from a small team (sic) in Chile and who ends up being an important part of CONMEBOL and the explosion of world football, I think he fit a lot with what we needed", explained Bó, Oscar winner as co-writer of "Birdman " "He ends up being pressured by the FBI and used so that in the moment of greatest sporting success - the Copa América that Chile won in 2015, the first in the history of that country - he has more failure on his personal level."

The former leader did not participate in the film project. Since May 2015, when the first leaders were arrested on the eve of the FIFA Congress in Zurich, 26 people have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wrongful acts, electronic fraud and money laundering.

Among them were several soccer leaders, including former CONCACAF general secretary Chuck Blazer, and former CONMEBOL headlines, Paraguayans Nicolás Leoz and José Ángel Napout. The first two have already passed away.

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Then-FIFA President Joseph Blatter was suspended for eight years for all soccer-related activity.

Other former top leaders of South American football implicated in the scandal were Uruguayan Eugenio Figueredo (former president of CONMEBOL and the Uruguayan Association); Luis Bedoya (Colombian Federation); Rafael Esquivel (Venezuelan Federation); Luis Chiriboga (Ecuadorian Federation) and José María Marín (Brazilian Confederation).

Most of them appear in "The President" characterized as corrupt, ambitious and womanizing thanks to the many benefits that football generates.

The character of Grondona (played by the Argentine actor Luis Margani), from beyond, serves as a guide for the viewer in the behind the scenes of the playing fields and the stars of football.

Bó admitted that it was a challenge for the writers to compose characters because "the obviousness with which these people were handled was so delusional that we had to work a lot so that it was not all real and boring," he added.

The Mexican actress Karla Souza, as the FBI agent who recruits Jadue, and her compatriot Paulina Gaitán, as the leader's influential wife, complete the leading trio.

While the United States Department of Justice is advancing on other ramifications of the scandal (TV companies and bribes to leaders for the election of Qatar as the host of the 2022 World Cup), Bó is not entirely convinced that transparency won the battle.

“It was a big giant machine armed in a way. Without a doubt things will have changed, (but) I don't think everything has changed ”, he concluded.

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Linda Hopkins

Linda is one of the oldest contributors to Sunriseread. She has a unique perspective with regards to business and technology. She aims to empower the readers with the delivery of well-written news pieces, and most importantly, she always tries to bring the news quicker to the readers.

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