Next Goal Wins

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Not suitable under 8; parental guidance to 10 (themes, violence, coarse language)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Next Goal Wins
  • a review of Next Goal Wins completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 2 January 2024.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Not suitable due to themes, violence and coarse language.
Children aged 8–10 Parental guidance recommended due to themes and coarse language.
Children aged 11 and over Ok for this age group.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Next Goal Wins
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes and coarse language
Length: 104 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Based on a true story, Thomas Rongen (Michael Fassbender) is a failed football coach struggling to come to terms with the loss of a family member in a car crash and the subsequent separation from his wife Gail (Elisabeth Moss). The Football Association gives him the option of either being fired or taking the position of coach of the American Samoan football team, who infamously scored 0 to Australia’s 31 goals in the 2001 FA World Cup – and had never won a game since.

Thomas reluctantly travels to American Samoa where he meets the team’s manager Tavita (Oscar Kightley). Thomas is disrespectful of Samoan culture and is angry at having to take the job. He is, however, passionate about the game of football (soccer) and is determined to get the team to score at least one goal. By the end of his time there, it’s apparent that Thomas learns more from the Samoans than he can teach them about football.


Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Loss of a child; Marriage Breakdown; Racism; Football.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie, including:

  • A mother repeatedly hits her adult son with a slipper, then throws it at her husband. She also yells at him about the marks on his face.
  • The head of the Football Association talks emotionally about when his dog got old and his father killed it by drowning it. This is a metaphor but not an obvious one.
  • Rough play on the football field.
  • Thomas gets angry often and yells at the team. A video is shown of him yelling at the referee in a match.
  • Jaiyah knocks Thomas to the ground when he calls her ‘Johnny’.
  • A man gets hit by a bus but isn’t hurt.
  • The Samoan team performs the Siva Tau (a war dance) in front of the Tongan team. They both display levels of aggression towards each other, hissing and using threatening gestures.
  • Thomas throws a chair and an esky in frustration and anger.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • Nothing else particularly scary noted for this age group.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • Thomas says that he is not God but he may as well be because he performs more miracles than God does.
  • Tavita collapses at a match from heat stroke. He’s seen lying on a bed while his wife fans him.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged eight to thirteen, including the following:

  • One of the main players is Jaiyah, a trans woman who is still in the process of transitioning. She is taking hormone tablets and when she has completed transitioning, she won’t be able to play in the men’s team. At first, Thomas refuses to call her by her name and calls her ‘Johnny’, which is the name she’s registered in. He later comes to accept and respect her, but asks her what she is “down below”, as the Football Association will need to know. The movie portrays the difficulties Jaiyah goes through and how she gets very upset at times. She is now an ambassador for equality at FIFA.
  • Thomas says that the Samoan ways are ‘shit’ and is very disrespectful of their culture.
  • Thomas is very emotional when he tells the team about how he lost his daughter Nicole in a car crash. She was driving to training when she lost control of her car. He blames himself for not being there and driving her himself. He constantly listens to her recorded messages on his phone.

Thirteen and overinfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

  • Nothing further noted.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Nike
  • Adidas
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Spam
  • Mention of McDonalds
  • X-Box
  • Coca Cola.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Tavita tells the team that if they lose, the opponents will draw ‘lady boobs’ on his face – which they do. He asks the team how many they drew and they ask if he wants to know pairs or single boobs.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Two drunk Australian men approach Thomas, mocking him. One of them shows him his tattoo on his chest of 31-0 and a penis. They both get up very close to him and one simulates sex on Thomas’s body.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Quite a lot of drinking throughout. Thomas drinks alone at home, while driving a car and, seemingly, while coaching. At one point he simultaneously orders whiskey, beer and wine at a bar.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Shit
  • Pissing around
  • Jesus Christ
  • Crap
  • Arseholes
  • Pissed
  • Son of a bitch
  • Oh God
  • Screw you
  • Arses
  • What the hell
  • Bullshit
  • Name calling such as:
    • Losers
    • Idiot.

In a nutshell

Next Goal Wins is a comedy about a real-life drama concerning the demoralising defeat of the American Samoa team in the 2001 World Cup, where they lost to Australia 31-0. The film has lots of funny moments but it does cover some serious subjects, such as recovering from a bereavement, transitioning from a male to a female, and racial prejudice. It is, therefore, not suitable for children under 8 and more suited for older children, teens and adults.

The main messages from this movie are that winning isn’t everything; and that happiness is paramount to success.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Respect for other cultures
  • Tolerance
  • Inclusivity
  • Acceptance of others
  • Recognition of skills rather than failures.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • Thomas has obvious anger management issues but the reason is not known until near the end of the movie. This could give parents the opportunity to discuss the death of loved ones and the need to allow bereavement to take its time.