EXCLUSIVE: Fox and Chernin Entertainment have set Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah — Brussels-born directors of the Toronto premiere Black — to direct The Big Fix, the working title of a film based on the match-fixing scandal that plagued soccer and involved bribes of refs, players and even coaches. Chernin is producing, and the film idea originated in Brett Forrest’s ESPN The Magazine article “All The World Is Staged.” Fox and Chernin will quickly set new writers to work with the directors to tell an international crime thriller set in the high-stakes world of match-fixing in the world’s most popular sport, where purity clashes with the dirty world of organized crime.
The film follows three main characters — the ex-Interpol agent charged with cleaning up the game (based on the life rights of Chris Eaton, a former police officer who helped uncover the scandal while serving as top enforcement agent for FIFA); the masterful match fixer being funded by the Triads (based on the currently incarcerated Raj Perumal, who was caught in Finland and charged with match fixing); and the promising young player who has to choose between his personal honor and the safety of his family (an amalgamation of several actual players).
Eaton’s efforts were stymied by the sport’s governing bodies, but Perumal’s own sloppiness caused his demise. Unsatisfied betting on rigged games he brokered, Perumal began betting on legitimate sporting events, and losing his shirt – $10 million in one three-month period. He pressed to recover his losing bets and the schemes were uncovered. Perumal spent a year in a Finnish prison, but was turned over to Hungary, one of a number of EU countries that want him to answer for match fixing. According to the magazine, his cooperation has made Perumal a marked man.
Fox’s Kira Goldberg is the executive and CAA and Management 360 rep the filmmakers along with agent Ken Lambrechts in Belgium. It’s a hot button topic for Fox, whose Rupert Murdoch made the Fox Soccer Channel the most prolific broadcaster in America of Premier League and other pro games and has boosted awareness of the sport in the U.S. to unprecedented levels.
Forrest and Eaton are both repped by Gersh.