Al Jazeera has announced a five -part documentary on the stories of five football heroes whose social conscience led them to challenge unjust regimes, join opposition movements and lead the fight for democracy and human rights.
Presented and narrated by the former Manchester United star Eric Cantona, “Football rebels” tells the story of five footballers who used their fame and influence to shape the political and social fabric of their country.
“Football Rebels” brings together a serious subject matter together with sport in a sharply edited, fast-paced, glossy visual style.
The first episode explores how the former Chelsea and Ivory Coast forward Didier Drogba had helped the Ivory Coast team qualify for the 2006 world cup, and then challenged President Gbagbo to end the civil war in his country.
Episode two looks at how in 1958 AS Saint Etienne striker Rachid Mekhloufi stealthily left France to join the FLN football team and play for Algerian Independence.
The third episode shows how in the midst of the civil war in the former Yugoslavia, the former Yugoslav star Predrag Pasic started a multi-ethnic football school in the besieged city of Sarajevo
The fourth episode follows the journey of Chilean player Carlos Caszely and how in 1973 his support for murdered president Salvador Allende led to his persecution by General Pinochet’s regime.
The final episode looks back at the Brazilian dictatorship of the early 1980s and how Socrates the midfield maestro and Brazilian captain turned every Corinthians’ match into a political meeting for democracy.
Commenting on “Football Rebels” Eric Cantona says: “Football is more than the opium of the people. It’s about good intentions, noble hearts… When your country’s at war, your friends are killing each other and children are given rifles rather than footballs, so what if the whole world admires you!”
• First episode of Football Rebels will be shown on Tuesday, March 12, at 22:30 GMT.
• Online Trailer of the first episode is available online: http://youtu.be/Mt1OVVg1bUA
• Programmes will be available online a day after viewing on: http://aje.me/srOWdf
• Football Rebels is written and directed by Gilles Rof and Gilles Perez.