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Racism in soccer world to be probed in ‘Patrick Vieira — Off the Bench’ documentary

“In 2022, Black players continue to be insulted on the field and on social media,” said Vieira, current coach of Crystal Palace, the English Premier League club.
Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieria during a match at Kassam Stadium, in Oxford, England
Patrick Vieira during a Carabao Cup second-round match at Kassam Stadium in Oxford, England, on Aug. 23. Zac Goodwin / PA Images via Getty Images file

Federation Studios, the outfit behind the international Emmy award-nominated documentary “Nadia,” is set to co-produce “Patrick Vieira — Off the Bench,” a social-impact documentary shedding light on racism in the world of soccer and beyond.

Federation Studios, whose documentary unit is headed by veteran journalist Myriam Weil, is partnering up with SlugNews, an award-winning production outfit, to develop and produce “Patrick Vieira — Off the Bench.” The documentary feature will soon start shooting in the U.K. and France.

Vieira, the current coach of Crystal Palace, the English Premier League club, has been a pillar for the biggest European clubs, from Arsenal to Juventus, Inter Milan and Manchester City. He’s also been a member and captain of the French national team which won the 1998 World Cup and the 2000 European Championship.

A well-respected figure within the sports landscape who went from player to coach for one of the world’s most prestigious soccer teams, Vieira says he has witnessed and experienced structural racism.

“In 2022, Black players continue to be insulted on the field and on social media,” says Vieira. “There are only two Black coaches in first division on the entire European continent including me! How can we change this?”

Weil, who started her career in journalism before serving as editorial producer for Canal+’s primetime TV magazine Le Grand Journal, says the investigative docu will feature testimonies from top figures within the soccer community worldwide, and will be backed by data.

“On the playground there are many visible minorities, but the higher you move within the hierarchy, the whiter it gets; there is a glass ceiling” says Weil. “Coaches are enduring racism all the time and when they speak up, people talk about it for a bit but it’s not followed by any progress,” the executive continues.

Weil says Vieira has been wanting to make a social impact documentary for a long time to spark a discussion and hopefully change the status quo a world scale. He’s expected to tap into his relationships with well-known players, trainers, coaches and managers to have them share their experiences for the documentary.