(NOTE: This Q+A was originally published on May 10, 2018.)
Football for Better or for Worse follows FC Rosengård, one of the best women's teams in the world. Led by new sporting director Therese Sjögran and Brazilian star Marta, the club fights every day to lift the women’s game. Can they win?
Director Inger Molin discussed with Kicking + Screening the making of the film, the plight of women's soccer around the globe, and Marta's exceptional singing ability.
Football for Better or for Worse is now available to stream via the K+S Media Group website. Watch it now!
K+S: How did you first come to the story of FC Rosengård and what appealed to you about telling it in a documentary?
I had lunch with the CEO of FC Rosengård, Klas Tjebbes, in January 2015. He had the year before left his job at an advertising agency after 25 years in the business. He always had his heart in football and felt confident that he could join the club and make a difference, using his PR skills to handle the tricky financial situation. After five months of hard work he realized that it was much more complex and harder than he had expected. He was tired. And he was angry, so upset about UEFA’s way of financially handling the Women Champions League. Their monetary contribution to the women teams didn’t at all even cover travel and hotel costs. In order for FC Rosengård to be able to attend the tournament, they needed to get financial support from the city of Malmö. UEFA gave 0.2 percent of the money to women teams, and 99.8% to the men. Outrageous...
When I told this story to a director of photography colleague of mine, Bill Watts, who works a lot with documentaries, he instantly felt that this is a story that we should tell. And with one of the best women players ever in the team, Marta, we could get attention to the important financial and gender structure issue.
K+S: What was your goal in making Football for Better or for Worse? Do you think it has had a positive effect on women’s football in Sweden? Around the world?
My goal was to get the message out, without portraying women footballers as victims. I wanted to show strong, passionate, and professional football players being treated unfair by just telling the fact of the weird distribution of money.
Young girls should have the same possibilities as young boys to choose the profession of being a football player. This wasn’t a possibility just 10 years ago, but now it is. And this is great. Things are changing for the better. Slowly.
The film was shown at national TV in Sweden during spring 2017, and available on their online Play - more than 130,000 viewers. At the same time, there was a public discussion going on regarding women football and economics. I hope our film contributed.
In making the film, I think the players felt they got seen, feeling that their story is important. Since the film got finalized, many players have left FC Rosengård, starting playing in other European clubs. In this way you could say that the ”spirit” of the film has spread internationally, the players are the best ambassadors. And when the film is being shown at sport film festivals, the message is also spread. This was my big goal with this project.
K+S: Football for Better or for Worse has a pretty specific point of view. Did you have that idea and those opinions when you started filming or did you come to them as you spent more time with the team?
The process started with anger, frustration about the unfairness of money within football. This feeling was confirmed during the production. But during the journey this feeling was mixed with the great passion for football the girls have. It got so clear to me, that there is no difference between woman and men footballers regarding this. And the inequality is not specific for football, it reflects the structure in society.
When screening the film for the first time at a big theater in Malmö, with many young girls footballers in the audience, it was a great feeling when they all looked so proud afterwards. This was a film with their role models, a film about them. And when a 20-year-old guy asked me if it was possible to get a poster of the film, the cool pic of Therese Sjögran, I really felt we had succeeded!
K+S: What’s the best story about Marta that didn’t make it into the film?
Marta is very dedicated in making a difference for women football. So she was definitely okay with us hanging around the pitch, following the team with our camera. But she is a very humble and shy person in public, and it was clear to us that she didn’t want to stand out from the team as some kind of superstar. I would say that all the things we got with Marta got into to final edit. My only disappointment was that we couldn’t use her singing when she played in the hotel lobby after the loss in the CL quarter final in Frankfurt. Marta has a good voice and she played a song of the Brazilian group Tribalistas. Due to rights issues, we had to make an alternative creative sound edit. Because I definitely wanted the scene in the film, since it was very emotional, coming close to Marta.
K+S: The World Cup is coming up this summer. Who ya got?
Haha… you mean the World Cup NEXT summer? There is a journalist in Sweden that calls our women's national team the "Real National team," the team that wins games! ;)
Seriously, I am not that into men's football but of course Brazil is always close to heart. And the small nation of Iceland is always a thrill to watch, speaking of strong team spirit.
The manager of the Swedish national team, Janne Andersson, is an old friend of mine and of course I wish him and our Swedish team all the best of luck. However, I am not sure that we will go all the way…! ;)