Ben Affleck and Matt Damon are teaming up to bring the FIFA soccer scandal to the big screen, adapting the upcoming book Houses of Deceit by Buzzfeed reporter Ken Bensinger.
As first reported by The Hollywood Reporter, Warner Bros. picked up the rights to Houses of Deceit, which will be produced by Damon and Affleck’s production company, Pearl Street Films. EW has confirmed that Gavin O’Connor (Warrior) is set to direct the film, reteaming with Affleck in their first project since wrapping up The Accountant. Warrior screenwriter Anthony Tambakis is attached to script. Entertainment 360’s Guymon Casady and Darin Friedman will also produce.
News of the deal ends a studio bidding war for Houses of Deceit, which Bensinger hasn’t even been published yet. Based on a 2014 article by the Pulitzer Prize finalist that delves into the story of former American FIFA executive Chuck Blazer—who in 2013 admitted to accepting millions of dollars in kickbacks and bribes over the course of 20 years—the book has been picked up by Simon & Schuster and is slated for publication sometime in 2017.
Though no casting decisions have been made, Bensinger says he envisions Blazer being portrayed by someone like John Goodman, whom he says would bring “fury and comedy to the role.”
The story of Blazer’s involvement in a high-profile bribery scandal showcased the dark underbelly of soccer, revealing illicit corruption throughout the international body. At one point, Blazer used his position of influence to finance a Trump Tower apartment in Manhattan—just to house his cats. The New York native later cooperated with authorities in an in-depth investigation, and in May of this year, the 70-year-old pleaded guilty to 10 charges including wire fraud, money laundering, racketeering, and income tax evasion.
“I love the con-man story and just love that this is about a very strong sense of good and bad,” Bensinger says. “There’s not a lot of ambiguity about how these people behave. The IRS and FBI, and all these people who sort of did the good work and brought down something that was untouchable, because the power of FIFA internationally is unbelievable. It’s as if you combined the MLB, NBA, NFL, and NHL into one organization.”