"Rise As One," a groundbreaking six-episode soccer series showcasing some of the most uplifting stories in sport, bows on FOX Sports 1 March 25. The new documentary series, which will air in 55 countries around the planet, will showcase some of soccer most memorable and incredible tales in the run up to the 2014 World Cup.
Produced in conjunction with Budweiser as part of their fully integrated global campaign around the World Cup, "Rise As One" celebrates the humanity and perseverance found in sport, and how soccer's global reach makes it uniquely inspiring.
"The stories that we tell in this series are universal and timeless," says Michael Bloom, FOX Sport's Senior Vice President of Original Programming. We're just telling them through the lens of soccer.
"There's a special spirit in these films," adds Bloom. "And what we think is an uplifting force. What is incredible is how soccer has helped so many people around the globe come together. It's a world-wide and universal phenomenon and these six stories back it up, 100%."
Veteran filmmakers Scott Boggins and Gabriel Spitzer, who have combined for 15 Emmy Awards, joined forces to produce and direct the Rise as One documentary series, gaining exclusive interviews with football legends like France's Zinedine Zidane and Brazil's Ronaldo.
"Rise As One" debuts with the powerful story of the Japanese women's World Cup winning team, which overcame the devastation of the 2001 tsunami and the Fukushima disaster to become a focus of healing for their nation. The episode features key members of th at 2011 squad, including star player Homare Sawa, coach Norio Sasaki, and Karina Maruyama, who worked part-time in the Fukushima power plant.
"This story shows that, even in the worst of times, soccer is a saving grace," says Bloom. "The journeys that these women endured -- literally from disaster to the mountain-top -- these are things we can all learn from and celebrate."
Future episodes examine the memorable 1998 meeting between the USA and Iran on the pitch; the unifying force that was France's golden generation; and the haunting story of the "Christmas Truce," which saw soldiers lay down arms during World War I.
"All these episodes stand alone but if you were to look at the arc of the series I think you see how "Rise As One" goes from recovering from natural disaster to how the sport gave respite during the gravest war ever. In each case the power of sport -- and the love of soccer -- conquered all. What's amazing is that even during devastation and war and racial unrest, this beautiful game is able to take us away for a moment to give us a chance to reflect."
Budweiser's partnership with FOX was a natural according to Bloom.
"They liked how we celebrate sport and the players," says Bloom. "To FOX, it doesn't matter if a team are world champions or unknowns the power of the story and the passion for the sport that matters. They saw a great opportunity here to tell these fantastic stories in a fresh way."
In addition to its global partnership with FOX, Budweiser also serves as the lead partner of the Kicking + Screening Soccer Film Festival, an annual series of soccer cultural events that brings together football and film enthusiasts to celebrate the beautiful game. Budweiser will debut two "Rise As One" episodes on the big screen when the festival visits New York City from April 8-11, 2014.