ESPN Sets World Cup Spin-Off Film Series ’30 for 30: Soccer Stories’

TCA 2014: The project will include 2 feature-length docs, six 30-minute films and 10 Brazilian-themes vignettes

ESPN will debut a film series spin-off, “30 for 30: Soccer Stories,” in anticipation of its 2014 FIFA World Cup coverage.

The new series, which will include a mix of standalone feature-length documentaries and 30-minute films, will debut in April. It will focus on the international soccer landscape. Ten vignettes about Brazil’s (the country hosting the 2014 contest) culture will be feature throughout World Cup programming.

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The two feature-length films are “Hillsborough,” directed by Daniel Gordon– the first film in the series, launching on Apr. 22 — and “White, Blue and White,” directed by Camilo Antolini and produced by Juan Jose Campanella.

The film series will air one doc per week, doubling up the half-hour ones for their premieres.

“Hillsborough” covers the worst disaster in British soccer history, which occurred in an overcrowded stadium in Sheffield, England in 1989. When 3,000 fans grossly overcrowded the standing-room only spectator section, 96 people were killed and 766 injured in the resulting “human crush.”

“White, Blue and White” tells the tale of Argentinian player Ossie Ardiles, who joined England’s club Tottenham Hotspur at a time when the league was not really an option for overseas players. Leading the team to a championship, Ardiles initially became a cult hero in England — until Argentinian troops descended on the British-ruled Falkland Islands, asserting rightful sovereignty.

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The six 30-minute films are “Garrincha: Crippled Angel,” “Barbosa — The Man Who Made All of Brazil City,” “Ceasefire Massacre,” “The Opposition,” “Mysteries of the The Jules Rimet Trophy,” and “Maradona ’86.”

“With ESPN being the home of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, we know that sports fan will be looking forward to high quality content focused on what is perhaps the world’s most revered sport,” said Connor Schell, VP of ESPN Films and Original Content. “We feel this is a perfect time to expand upon the success of our ’30 for 30’ series by focusing this collection on some of the incredible stories of soccer’s legendary past.”

On Saturday, ESPN also announced that 2002 FIFA World Cup champion Gilberto Silva from Brazil and Dutch player Ruud van Nistelrooy will serve as studio analysts for the June tournament.

The first day of the 2014 World Cup kicks-off on ESPN on June 12.