The Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. More than 90,000 fans in blistering heat, along with a record-breaking 40 million more viewers at home, witnessed Brandi Chastain of the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team break the 0-0 tie game and score the winning penalty kick to defeat China in the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
As a longtime soccer fan, I can still remember watching that groundbreaking game in Union Square. When I moved to Uganda in my teens, playing soccer was an important way to meet kids my own age (even if our balls were made up of dried banana leaves). That was also true when I left my first job in Los Angeles to take summer film classes in New York City in 1999. In between stealing shots and locations, my collaborators and I would stand outside bars to see the Women’s World Cup series. Watching the USA team that summer made me forget I had no money and little more than a dream to feed me. That team, that goal, and Brandi Chastain’s unforgettable reaction - in which she ripped off her shirt and dropped to her knees in astonishment - made me believe I could do anything, and do it my way.
But even more important than this landmark victory itself, the “kick that shook the world” also sent long-term reverberations throughout sports that can still be felt today. It dominated headlines all summer and turned Chastain, Julie Foudy, Mia Hamm and the rest of the ‘99ers into role models. It transformed millions of new converts into soccer fans. It led to more funding and recognition for women’s soccer around the world, including helping establish the first professional North American women’s soccer league. But most importantly, it started important conversations about gender in sports - propelling women’s leagues forward all over the world, and inspiring an entire generation of young girls to dream bigger, thus paving the way for Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, and so many others to aspire to represent Team USA.
While millions around the globe eagerly wait to light up the scoreboards again, now it’s time to turn the spotlight back on the ‘99ers that captured the hearts and souls of fans everywhere. We’re excited to announce that Netflix has scored the rights to Jere Longman’s book The Girls of Summer: The US Women’s Soccer Team and How It Changed The World to develop into a feature film. The project will center on the 1999 U.S. Women’s Soccer team, following their journey to the Women’s World Cup, and their groundbreaking victory.
In addition to Jere’s book, we’ve assembled a stellar behind-the-scenes team to revisit this unbelievable true story. 3dot productions’ Liza Chasin (Darkest Hour, Baby Driver, Love Actually) will produce under her multi-year first look deal with Netflix, along with Ándale Productions’ Hayley Stool and 56-time Sports Emmy Award winner Ross Greenburg (Miracle) of Ross Greenburg Productions. Stool optioned the book and secured life rights to eight of the team’s players. 3dot’s Margaret Chernin will work closely with Chasin on the project. President and CEO of the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup Marla Messing, Jill Mazursky (David Crosby: Remember My Name) and Krista Smith will serve as executive producers.
I can’t wait to get to work on this film and relive this staggering victory with our members around the world. I also can’t wait for soccer and other sports players to hit the field again once live sports return. But in the meantime, Netflix has an expansive library of soccer-centered shows, movies and documentaries sure to satisfy your sports cravings. Are you ready to play ball?
Written by Tendo Nagenda, Vice President, Netflix Films
Soccer titles on Netflix:
21 Thunder (Series)
Antoine Griezmann: The Making of a Legend (Documentary)
Apache: The Life of Carlos Tevez (Series)*
Back of the Net (Film)*
Barça Dreams (Documentary)*
Because of Soccer (Film)*
Bobby Robson - More Than a Manager (Documentary)
Boca Juniors Confidential (Doc Series)
Concrete Football (Documentary)
The English Game (Series)
First Team: Juventus (Doc Series)
Le K Benzema (Documentary)
Maradona in Mexico (Doc Series)
The Perfect Day (Documentary)
Summer of 92 (Film)
Sunderland ‘Til I Die (Doc Series)
*Title available on Netflix in select countries.