In the Trailer for 'The Beautiful Game', Sport Can Build a Better World

The Beautiful Game Netflix First Look Bill Nighy Group Shot

(Photo: Netflix)

Can sports change the world? That is the question at the heart of the upcoming Netflix film The Beautiful Game, which is based on the true story of the Homeless World Cup. The annual event, which first took place in 2003, aims to use soccer to support and inspire people who are homeless to change their own lives and to change perceptions and attitudes towards those experiencing homelessness. The 2024 Homeless World Cup will occur in Seoul, South Korea, while the most recent edition of the street football tournament took place in Sacramento, California, in July 2023.

The Beautiful Game stars Bill Nighy (The Man Who Fell to Earth) as Mal, the coach and manager of England's homeless soccer team, who takes his players to Rome hoping to be crowned champion of the Homeless World Cup. At the last minute, he brings along talented striker Vinny (played by Top Boy's Michael Ward), who might be good enough to give them a real chance of winning. But Vinny has to face some personal demons and overcome his conflicting feelings over his once-promising past before he can fully embrace his place with this team and move on with his own life. 

The film's ensemble also features Susan Wokoma (Enola Holmes 2), Callum Scott Howells (It's a Sin), Kit Young (Shadow & Bone), Sheyi Cole (Atlanta), Tom Vaughan-Lawlor (The Ipcress File), Robin Nazari (Snabba Cash), Aoi Okuyami (Girl/Haji), Cristina Rodio (Halo), Tadashi Wantanabe (Tokyo Vice), Kazuhiro Muroyama (Pachinko), and Valeria Golino (The Morning Show). 

Made with the support of the Homeless World Cup, many of the players seen in The Beautiful Game are real former HWC participants whose lives have been changed by the organization's efforts. 

Here's the film's synopsis. 

Mal is the manager of England’s homeless football team, taking his players to Rome with the hope of being crowned champions of the Homeless World Cup, a global street soccer tournament. At the last minute, he decides to bring with them a talented striker Vinny, who could give them a real chance at winning, but only if he’s ready to let go of his past and become part of the team.

Made with the support of the Homeless World Cup, The Beautiful Game is a film of second chances - where homeless teams from around the world find that all roads lead to Rome, and everything’s to play for.

The Beautiful Game is written by Frank Cottrell Boyce (The Railway Man) and Thea Sharrock (Wicked Little Letters). The project, which began filming back in 2021, is produced by Graham Broadbent, Pete Czernin, and Ben Knight for Blueprint Pictures (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri), as well as Anita Overland (Small Axe) and The Banshees of Inisherin star Colin Farrell. Executive producers include Diarmuid McKeown, Claudine Farrell, Ollie Madden, and Daniel Battsek for Film4.

Farrell has been a longtime supporter of the film from its earliest days at Fox Searchlight and previously narrated the 2008 Sundance documentary Kicking It, which also spots the story of the Homeless World Cup. 

"The Beautiful Game is a film about succeeding against the odds," Broadbent said in a statement. Our film shows the joy, drama, and excitement of this real-life tournament and the enormous potential of people left behind by society."

The Beautiful Game premieres March 29 on Netflix. 

Lacy Baugher

Lacy's love of British TV is embarrassingly extensive, but primarily centers around evangelizing all things Doctor Who, and watching as many period dramas as possible.

Digital media type by day, she also has a fairly useless degree in British medieval literature, and dearly loves to talk about dream poetry, liminality, and the medieval religious vision. (Sadly, that opportunity presents itself very infrequently.) York apologist, Ninth Doctor enthusiast, and unabashed Ravenclaw. Say hi on Threads or Blue Sky at @LacyMB. 

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