Matthias Hartmann • Creator of the Net


“We don’t want to spoil the game for the fans; we’re just going to open the curtain a little bit “

– We spoke to the creator of the global event series The Internet, set out to expose football’s darkest secrets

The Internet, produced by Netz GmbH (a joint venture between Red Bull Media House, Beta Film and local producers), is a cross-border serial project that will mix different stories about corruption in the world of international football. Scheduled to launch ahead of the World Cup in Qatar, the first of four planned projects, the Austrian The Net – Prometheus, is led by Andreas and Daniel Prochaska. We spoke with Matthias hartmann, creator of the series.

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Cineuropa: Now that the results of the Ballon d’Or are known, I was thinking of football fans. I don’t know if they really want to know what’s going on. How do you plan to go about it?
Matthias Hartmann: That’s the crucial thing – we don’t want to spoil the game for the fans. We’re just going to open the curtain a bit and give them a behind-the-scenes look.

First of all, we are talking about three standalone series, and the fourth is already in development. Each will work alone, locally, with their respective broadcasters and producers. They have to be independent, that’s very important. In the Italian series, there will be crooks and junkies, and journalists, but one thing that combines everything is that they all love football. And you love them to love football! We don’t want to damage this beautiful game, but whenever a lot of money is involved there is corruption. There are bribes, cheating, human trafficking and doping.

What happened with the Super League meant that there were things the fans didn’t want. They don’t want to feel that it’s all about profit.
It was a horrible time when this happened. I had this idea of ​​”world league” three years ago! I started to write about it and was just worried it would look completely old fashioned. Thank goodness that did not happen. In The Internet, the boss of the WFA (World Football Association), which is like FIFA, although I can’t tell, is still working on trying to create it.

This idea of ​​having separate series makes sense; that way you won’t overload a scenario. But do you see it growing even more in the future?
I believe so, yes. In my other job, as an opera and theater director, I always have to think of something that others haven’t thought of yet. Red Bull Media House employs me to have these crazy ideas [Hartmann is the creative director of content development]. They said we needed a partner so I went to Beta. These people, they let me talk for an hour, didn’t say a word, then went, “It’s crazy, but let’s do it.

All the teams want to protect their respective stories and then I come by suggesting things. In the end, they inspired each other. But it’s never been done before, so we’re all learning. This process requires courageous people.

I guess audiences are now more open to more complex universes, interacting with each other like in Marvel productions.
Our stories are interwoven through the characters and through the plots. You have this international football star who gets injured in Italy, he gets sewn up in Austria and has to play in a place that we are not allowed to name because if we did, all the lawyers in the world would come and get us immediately. But if you want to think of Qatar, you can. He is just one of the characters who appear in all of these series.

Plus, we’re not really showing actual football here. It doesn’t work, it never works. If you want to see someone commit a foul on purpose, get kicked out and not be selected for a doping sample, you can show it. But you don’t show the game. The Internet, you are in the world of football, but it is not about what happens on the pitch. It’s about what’s behind it.

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