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February 15, 2024
Peter Calder

Captains of the World: A Series Covering the Largest Sporting Event in the World (2 minute read)

The Fifa World Cup is known across the world as the biggest sporting event, a historical tournament revered by countless countries worldwide, and only happens once every four years. Naturally, it made sense for Netflix to do a docu-series on it, specifically this last one in Qatar. The series' idea is to follow each team's different captains, tying them together with the tournament they embark on, leading their countries and playing against each other. From a general summary standpoint, it could be a standout, incredible series.  

This format of documentary filmmaking has been rinsed and repeated continuously pretty much since I noticed Drive to Survive, which follows drivers and teams in Formula One. Since that success, Netflix has been pumping out these styles of documentaries. Combining unprecedented access to global stars, showing their life during and not during their sport, can be very appetizing for the viewer. What it was and what I thought worked about the Captains of the World Series: Early on in the series, I think they did a great job establishing the enormity of the event itself; the World Cup is so much more than just a sporting event.

The series also does a great job with suspense; it reminded me of the old Hitchcock days; they were able to create dramatic and intense crescendos of suspense in each episode and have the suspense carry onto the next one, never having you feel like this is the end until the very last few minutes of the series. The approach of the series to focus on the captains is also interesting because it subtly shows us the different environments all these cultures and people live in and represent, which coincides directly with what the World Cup is all about.  

What didn't work and what would've been nice to see: The top captains of the series and known to the world are Messi, Mbappe, Ronaldo and Silva. Ronaldo and Silva both had quite significant roles, but of course, as was mostly predicted, France and Argentina went head to head in the finals, so everything went there. Unfortunately, although they were mentioned a lot throughout the series by other parties, neither Mbappe nor Messi had a whole lot of screen time. They were the main heavy hitters of the tournament and should've been more involved in the documentary.

From what it looks like, Messi didn't have a very long interview with the production, and neither of them had any off-the-pitch narratives, showing what they do off the pitch or their home life dynamic. This was a bit of a letdown because this was the main premise of the series, but they didn't do a whole lot with the main two key players. Of course,  this is likely assumed to be because they probably didn't want to participate in the documentary in that way, but maybe the series should've taken a different approach since that presence felt a bit missing.

I would've liked to see and follow the journey of a few less main subjects. For example, if they picked just two or three people of interest to follow in an in-depth way throughout the tournament, I think that would've been more effective rather than trying to cover all aspects of all the different captains involved. Overall, though, I think the series was pretty good; I will be looking forward to seeing if and what they do for the next World Cup.