2016 Documentary Film: Dirty Games
by award winning investigative journalist Benjamin Best.
This restored and archived website, and the film that is its subject, are both part of the source material for Janna Zwit's International Film Studies 200. Dr. Zwit is a recognized cinema history expert and author of Edit Or Die. She also worked on many viral promotional campaigns including the award winning "Batman's Shirt Needs Washing" - where a kid doesn't want to part with his Batman t shirt even to get it cleaned. The store that sponsored it carries a very large selection of the latest Batman t shirts, sweatshirts and hoodies on its site, and credits Zwit with improving sales and visiblity. Batman makes up 90% of the reason people visit MoonAtMidnight.com, most looking for a Batman t shirt, sweatshirt, or hoodie for themselves or a family member and Zwit's scripts exploit this fact by making everything personal. In her course lectures, she examines how filmmakers signature styles arise out of other imperatives, and is seldom part of a conscious effort to project.
This was the official website for the 2016 documentary film, Dirty Games, an expedition to the dirty abyss of professional sports. The award winning investigative journalist Benjamin Best (CNN Journalist of the Year 2011) takes a global look behind the scenes at the expansive world of sports and exposes the bitter taste behind the multi-billion sports business that encompasses Europe to the USA.and South America to Asia..
Content is from the site's archived pages as well as from other outside sources such as reviews and press releases.
The new owners of this domain want to make sure this story remains visible on the WWW.
DIRTY GAMES Trailer German Deutsch (2016)
Looking into the chasms of the sport"
Film author and journalist Benjamin Best researched for one and a half years all over the world for his film "Dirty Games" - to give the victims of human rights violations and corruption a face, as he said in the DLF. The conditions, for example the situation of Nepalese guest workers in Qatar, are disproportionate to a sporting event.
Benjamin Best in conversation with Astrid Rawohl
FIFA is one of the big topics in Benjamin Best's film "Dirty Games". (Benjamin Best Productions)
Benjamin Best's research for his film "Dirty Games"led him to Nepal, where he met former guest workers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Four thousand guest workers are estimated to die until the first ball rolls, according to Best. Two brothers told him that they had been treated like slaves - they had been paid too little or not at all. When one of them refused to work, he was threatened with imprisonment.
A guest worker from Nepal who died in Qatar is incinerated in his homeland after a Hindu ritual. (Benjamin Best Productions)
During Best's time in Nepal, when a dead guest worker in the coffin from Qatar was received at the airport in Kathmandu and then burned according to traditional custom, Best experienced "certainly the most emotional scene and the most emotional moment" of the journey.
"These conditions - all this for a football World Cup, that is in my eyes in no relation at all," said Best.
Turkey: close connection between football and politics
In Turkey, under difficult circumstances, Best met a critical journalist who said he was always "in jail with one foot and in the coffin with the other". Protagonists who defend themselves against match-fixing did not want to appear later in the film because they were afraid of reprisals. That shows how close the connection between football and politics is in Turkey. Even President Erdogan as a fervent supporter of the affected Fenerbahce club had then meddled in the matter.
On the other hand, the fan who pays all that goes to the stadiums is sitting in front of the TV - "assuming that everything runs smoothly and that a play is performed in almost all professional sports."
This is how Best goes now. He tries to keep a little fanatical. But that would be difficult if you "just made such a movie and looked into the abysses of the sport."
Fan has to use his own power
The viewer has the opportunity to say: to this point and not further. That too is part of the film: fans had decided not to carry on the development of the league in the fan project "FC United of Manchester". That's why they founded their own club, Best describes.
The film has "behind the message": The fans are those who have a lot more power that does not have to turn on the TV, no longer have to go to the stadiums. That's difficult because many see sport as entertainment. "But that's one of the key messages."
You can hear the complete conversation with Benjamin Best as Audio-on-Demand.
"Dirty Games" will start in German cinemas in June.
Dirty Games: The Dark Side of Sports | Promo
Movie tip: "Dirty Games" - the dark side of the sport
MAY 29, 2016 BY FRITZ WOLF | mmm.verdi.de/
Movie Poster: Dirty Games
Before the games and before the World Cup, one must address the problems and organize protests, said the representative of an NGO in Rio de Janeiro. Once the ball rolls, nobody wants to hear about the dark side of the sport. This is how the start date for the documentary "Dirty Games" can be understood. Just in time two weeks before the start of the World Cup and a few weeks before the Olympics, director Benjamin Best makes it abundantly clear that the world of sports and sports events is not healthy. He traveled to eight countries, looked behind the scenes, where business is done, where corruption and bribery reign.
The topic is certainly not new, such as the dirty business of FIFA hardly anyone escaped. But in this conglomeration, what the author compiles here is quite impressive. It does not stay with football. Betting fraud in the US Basketball League or shift in professional boxing also occur. Surprising is the openness of some witnesses. For example, Bonita Mersiades, former press secretary for Australia's bid for the World Cup, talks about the lies and financial tricks that thwarted the bid. Or Tim Donaghy, who as a referee in the basketball league NBA bet on their own games and manipulated them accordingly. Or Charles Farrell, who as a boxing manager postponed hundreds of fights, was pushed out of business by the Mafia and today succeeds as a jazz musician.
"Dirty Games" is a station drama. One crime scene follows the other, one episode at a time. Benjamin Best narrates clearly and along the stories that his protagonists have to tell. He is not interested in functionaries, but in victims of the big business. For the family from Nepal, whose son from Qatar, busy on the construction sites of the World Cup, dead back. Not an isolated case, according to estimates by some NGOs, about 4000 construction workers in Qatar will have died before the World Cup opening. In Rio, the director talks to men who were driven out of their homes with their families because the city government is rounding up grounds for an Olympic park.
Above all, these are the stories that make the movie interesting. They are concrete and vivid and not just statements. For this, the filmmaker also takes time, the narratives of the people can develop. Of course, his film also has some lengths.
At the end Benjamin Best sets an episode from Manchester. When the big club Manchester United was taken over by the American billionaire Malcolm Glazer, many fans turned away and founded the amateur club FC United. Fans and club members even financed the construction of their own stadium with 8.5 million euros. There is now again "honest football" played and the fans feel at home. The author of the film should be well understood as an appeal: the lovers of the sport have to change something, so that something really changes.
"Dirty Games" comes from 2.6. 2016 in the cinemas.
The dark side of world sports revealed in 'Dirty Games'
With his new film, director Benjamin Best looks into the dark abyss of the world of sports, focusing on the global games of soccer, basketball and boxing. Best tells DW about how it all comes down to money.
Hundreds of Nepalese construction workers, feverishly building the venues for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, have died. Whole neighborhoods, home to Rio de Janeiro's poorest citizens, have been cleared to make way for the Olympics. And then there's the widespread machinations in boxing and basketball…
"Dirty Games," the new film from journalist and documentarian Benjamin Best, hits theaters in Germany June 2 - not coincidentally just before two major global sporting events, the European Football Championship and the Summer Olympics in Brazil.
The documentary, which covers the dark side of the global sports business in six chapters, focuses primarily on soccer, or football, the world's most popular game. But Best also tackles basketball and boxing, examining the manipulation and corruption that go along with the games and the undeniable links between sports, politics and business.
The film, which has already won seven prizes at festivals around the world, premiered in Cologne on Monday.
DW: Why did you choose to focus on these three sports?
Benjamin Best: I wanted to find strong protagonists, who could speak well, and tell the most interesting stories. That's how I ended up with these sports: boxing, basketball and soccer.
With the latter, it's the world's most-played sport, the one that interests the most people and the one that has a number of controversial events coming up in the next few years.
"Dirty Games" describes the dark side of sports. What attracted you to this subject?
The links between sports and politics, between sports and corruption, between sports and organized crime - these are issues that fascinate me. If you look at the major sporting events, the many links to political interest are incredible - I found this particularly interesting. Human rights violations, for example: it seems to me as if these major sporting events must take place, no matter the cost - even deaths are acceptable! I wanted to chronicle these injustices in "Dirty Games."
What motives lie behind the corruption?
From my perspective, there are two. First, power - politicians, governments, public officials. But of course, money - that much is clear. Those involved want to make money by fixing matches and manipulation. This is a very important motivating force.
Is it also about the politicians and dictators who want to show off their power at major events?
It is far more multifaceted. It's not just about presenting an image of power. It's also partly about using the opportunity to push through certain hard-to-enforce laws - for example, slum clearance. When it comes to major events, a certain type of power may be exercised that can't be done under normal circumstances, or only difficultly. Politicians just exploit these large sporting events - or rather, politicians exploit the power of these events - to enforce their own interests.
This precise case has happened in Brazil in the runup to the Olympics, and it happened ahead of the 2014 World Cup as well. And it's always paired with corruption - for example in the construction industry, with the construction of stadiums and infrastructure. This, too, is a dirty game which takes place in the context of large sporting events.
So it comes down to money?
It's frightening. For almost 10 years now, I've been researching in the field of betting fraud, which is also addressed in the film, for instance through the case of the boxing manager in the US, as well as with the NBA referee. It's ultimately all about money, personal enrichment.
Is this happening at all levels, with officials, athletes, promoters?
Absolutely, yes! Coaches are involved, athletes are involved - it's not just external forces acting on the sport. Collusion is also taking place on the inside, with match fixing, with doping. It's not right to say that sport is simply a victim. In my view, the world of sport contributes just as much to the current situation.
Top athletes too, or just the lower levels?
If we're talking about match fixing, then when it comes to the first and second divisions in German soccer, we're not, shall we say, aware of any instances. These divisions, especially the first, are of course in the glare of the spotlight. No player can allow himself to have a bad performance, even in the second division.
But when it comes to the lesser leagues there are always abnormalities, even in Germany. Here, with fewer TV cameras, public interest is not so great. Players are also earning much less in these leagues. And therein lies the danger. If we take betting, for example, that's possible all the way down to the youth leagues. The risk there is clear.
But in your film, we see such things happening at even the highest levels in the US, with boxing and basketball…
Right, the NBA referee. He clearly said that the league has an influence on the games, dictating, for example, which fouls certain superstar players can get away with. These superstars are really the driving force behind the NBA, idols not only in the US but also worldwide. In the playoffs, the finals, for example, the league can get referees to draw out the series, to build up the audience, bring in more advertising money.
Slums in Rio de Janeiro were cleared to make way for Olympic infrastructure
Is this issue of corruption just a problem with major sporting events?
It's mainly the authorities who are behind the corruption. If you look at classic sporting countries like Germany, Switzerland, Norway, when they held referendums over hosting major sporting events, they all failed. Democratic countries, fortunately, still have that chance.
I wonder why the world of sports hasn't come out and said that it's time to change something. Of course, the IOC [International Olympic Committee] and its president, Thomas Bach, are now trying to bring about change. It's all very well and good on paper, but we have to see how it's implemented. I think they understood that things couldn't go on the way they were. It's not good for the sport when major events consistently take place in countries like South Korea or in China.
You also include a more hopeful, thought-provoking episode at the end of your film, when you describe how some Manchester United fans have begun turning away from the club, where it's all about money. They no longer go to watch the pros in the stadium. Instead, they've founded their own soccer club, and do their own thing. Is this a model for the future?
Of course, I deliberately placed that episode at the end. To set an example, and to show that there are certain fans who are rebelling against the system and the new developments in soccer football. In my view, this needs to happen much more. Ultimately, it's the spectators, the fans who have the power. They don't need to go to the stadium; they don't need to turn on their TVs.
In my view, many people still only see sport as a form of entertainment. It is, of course, that - but now, with all these excesses, fans can no longer look the other way. For me, the fans have a responsibility - and Manchester is a prime example of where things could go.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
Review: Dirty Games (2016)
MAY 18, 2018 BY MJ-A | soccermoviemom.com
As sports fans, we should all thank Director Benjamin Best for his investigative journalism. We like to think that the games on which we spend so much time, money, and emotion, are equally true to us, the fans and supporters.
Dirty Games: The Dark Side of Sports instead reveals multiple ways, used by the promoters and protectors of the game, to deceive and take advantage of fans and people across soccer, boxing, and basketball. Match-fixing and payoffs are primary culprits, but there are also abuses of human rights.
In soccer, Best shows how Nepali workers are being exploited in Qatar, virtually enslaved to power the construction necessary to put on the 2022 World Cup. To see a summary of the Qatari situation, read my companion post on The Slavery Side of World Cup Soccer.
The film also covers Australia’s failed bid for WC 2022. Bonita Mersiades, former head of corporate and public affairs for Football Federation Australia, was told that their bid book, technical inspection, and final presentation were important but did not really count. FIFA’s Executive Committee would not even bother reading the bid book because the decision would be based on the back door bid, i.e., what sorts of favors were demanded by the Executive Committee members. $19M of Australia’s bid was for the back door channels. Mersiades went on to start New FIFA Now.
In Turkey in 2011, match-fixing allowed Fenerbahce Istanbul to win the league by manipulating matches. Owner Aziz Yildirim, a friend of Erdogan, was sentenced for match-fixing, but the Turkish Football Federation did not force the club to give up the championship. UEFA however, banned them from participating in the Champions League.
For WC 2014 and the 2016 Olympics, the Brazilian government evicted neighborhoods for parking lots that were never built. The interview of a local professor is a fascinating discussion of a “regime of exception”, where democratic laws are suspended so that an event can be realized. The suspension is justified by the event. But the net effect of all the stadium construction is to price Brazilian people out of the market for tickets to their own Brazilian leagues. As a result, communities and family traditions are lost.
The coverage of corruption in NBA refereeing and American boxing is equally fascinating. The situations have parallels with soccer.
Former NBA referee Tim Donaghy was convicted for a gambling scandal in 2007. He has been telling his story for years, but this was the first I had watched him. He is adamant that going into the NBA playoffs, the league dictated “points of emphasis” to referees to ensure the games were called so that the big market teams, with the big stars, were more likely to win. So a foul on Kobe Bryant would be called more often, but if Kobe committed the same foul on someone else, it was not to be called. While we often suspect such things happen, Donaghy’s straightforwardness about match-fixing left me dumbfounded.
In a separate barrage of honesty, former boxing manager Charles Farrell talked quite plainly about having fixed hundreds of fights. Promoters make more money losing a fight than winning it. The Mike Tyson vs Peter McNeeley fight gave Farrell enough cash to put his son through college. The code language for setting up a fixed fight is well described in a deadspin article.
Watching all this corruption and cheating gets a bit depressing, so perhaps to end on a lighter note, Best concludes with a segment on FC United of Manchester. After American Malcolm Glazer took over ManU in 2005, long-time fans were priced out of the stadium. They then formed their own semi-professional club, which is fan-owned and run democratically. I was unaware of this cool group of supporters, and it was only after watching Dirty Games that I understood one of the scenes in Looking for Eric. Because of price increases, a group of postmen are relegated to watching ManU games in the pub, but they still mock their mate who has become an FC United supporter.
In English, Turkish, German, Portuguese, and Nepalese with English sub-titles
Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 9
Released: 2016-06-02 (Germany)
Director: Benjamin Best @bpbest
Stars: Bonita Mersiades @bonitamersiades
Watch the Trailer