Taika Waititi calls his long-delayed ‘Next Goal Wins’ the ‘Cool Runnings’ of soccer

Taika Waititi attends the UK Premiere of Disney Pixars' "Lightyear" on June 13, 2022 in London, England.
Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images for Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures UK
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On November 21, 2022
Last modified:November 21, 2022


Taika Waititi‘s not exactly one to keep his dance card empty. Between various producing, writing, and directing duties on projects such as Thor Love and Thunder, Reservation Dogs, and Our Flag Means Death, Waititi hasn’t had a lot of time to concentrate on his non-Marvel-related feature film Next Goal Wins. But with many of his projects wrapping up or going on hiatus, it seems the New Zealander director is finally able to talk details about the forthcoming sports comedy.

“The story is about the worst soccer team in the world, who famously experienced the biggest loss in an international match against Australia, 31-0, which is about a goal every four minutes,” Waititi told Entertainment Weekly. “After suffering that huge defeat, they applied to the soccer federation to find a coach who could get them from the very, very bottom of the FIFA rankings.”

The story is based upon the true story of the American Samoa national football team documented in the 2014 documentary that shares the same name as Waititi’s film. The movie features Michael Fassbender as Dutch-born, America-based coach Thomas Rongen, who was hired to coach the dismally-rated team to success.

The film will also feature newcomer Kamaina, who portrays Jaiyah Saelua, the first transgender player to compete in a FIFA World Cup qualifier. “Jaiya is a trans player — one of the star players of the team — and a lot of the film revolves around her relationship with Thomas Rongen,” Waititi told EW.

Although not a soccer fan himself (he favors rugby, more popular in his native New Zealand), Waititi was drawn to the underdog nature of the documentary. “Most of my films are about people who live on the margins, or are a little bit left out, and it just fit right in for me. It’s a true story, but it’s got all the elements that all the great sports films have. It’s basically the Cool Runnings of soccer.”