Amazon’s All or Nothing: Brazil National Team series offered a slight detour from the previous editions of the series, as they delved into the international game for the first time to give fans behind-the-scenes access at a summer tournament.
The 5-part documentary saw us follow the Brazilian National Team through the Copa America on home turf as they aimed to unite and re-engage a fanbase whose faith had dwindled following recent failures.
Early in the series, this message was made clear through various fan accounts showing the overriding scepticism towards the national team’s chances. “Same old, same old,” says one. Others described this current squad as the most closed-off it’s ever been.
Across various episodes, we are given a deep dive into some players hometowns, backgrounds, and their route to where they are today. Hearing from Artur’s father to Gabriel Jesus’ mother, helped show us a different side to the stars we see on the TV every weekend that we would otherwise never get.
The most striking aspect of these interludes is the relativity it would give the Brazilian people, at a time when they feel there is no connection. These players may be world stars now, but they have come from the same humble beginnings as much of the Brazilian population.
The issue that arose from these inspiring trips back home was that there was an air of favouritism towards several of the squad. Jesus, Alves, Richarlison, Neymar, Alisson, Everton and Artur were seemingly the chosen stars of the show, receiving a significant amount more airtime than other members of the squad.
It led me to question the authenticity of the documentary whereby this was done specifically with their marketability and potential to inspire fans in mind. Leaving players such as Fagner, Alex Sandro and Militão in the background due to their perceived lower popularity.
Towards the end of episode one, shortly after Neymar’s arrival in the squad, an allegation of rape is made against him that becomes instant headline news. What was probably the biggest outside difficulty the squad had to face during filming, the documentary kept its distance.
Any reaction to the news was shown strictly through press conference interviews, with a lack of behind-the-scenes footage on the topic. While this was difficult to cover due to the nature of the topic and an ongoing police investigation, it provided us with an inclination that this documentary was not a case of access all areas and there was an element of cherry-picking. Early on in episode two, this feeling is reinforced even further as General Coordinator, Edu was seen to ask the cameras to leave the room so they could make the summoning call to Willian.
Accessibility to all areas of the Brazilian national team was something I found particularly lacking compared to other editions of All or Nothing. Throughout the series with Manchester City, we were consistently flaunted with rousing speeches by Pep Guardiola pre-match, at half-time and full-time. However, Brazilian national manager Tite’s team meetings and tactical briefings were few and far between.
In what was only a six-game tournament, it would have been expected that we would receive a large amount of dressing room footage to fully gather insight into how Tite inspired his players to victory. Or what tactics and adjustments he made to get the better of his opposing manager. Overall, this was not the case.
On the one occasion, it was Tite’s narration of the group stage match against Bolivia that had me engrossed. The chance to hear a manager speak in detail about the decisions he made to influence an important game is something you do not usually get from a regular post-match interview. It was this level of insight that left me wanting more, and it was frustrating that this aspect of the documentary was not carried throughout.
For the most part, matches were narrated by fans or journalists which admittedly did help to add more transparency and relativity from a fan’s perspective. Hearing how passionate fans speak of nail-biting moments, or how they willed on their favourite player, brought on feelings and emotions we are all used to when watching our team play.
To conclude, All or Nothing: Brazil National Team could be considered a success, with its aims more or less carried out. While it was certainly not a completely transparent behind-the-scenes documentary. And with elements of cherry-picking to show viewers what they wanted you to see, it would have gone a long way to connecting fans with their national team once again and restoring an immense pride that was seemingly lost. It was undoubtedly helped by the team’s performance on the football pitch as I’m not sure a group stage exit would have been able to generate the same effect.