‘The Beautiful Game’ Plot Synopsis & Ending Explained: Does England Win The World Cup? 

Thea Sharrock’s The Beautiful Game is a story about second chances and redemption. As oblivious as I can be about things, I had no clue that the Homeless World Cup was a thing; however, I must admit that it surely is an extremely noble cause. The movie shows that this initiative is not just about letting talented players from underprivileged backgrounds represent their countries in a global tournament. The Homeless World Cup selects people based on their potential. People who are desperate for a second chance in life. For people who have had a troubled past, it gives them the opportunity for redemption and the opportunity to take responsibility so that they can turn their lives around. Homelessness is a serious social issue in practically every country around the world. Part of the reason why homelessness is still a raging issue is because of the barriers that we have created in society. People of privilege like us can very easily make blanket statements about homeless people choosing not to work, but that’s not it. I understand that we do not live in an ideal world where everyone is rightfully allowed to have a home of their own. But again, should people really be forced to earn a living? And even so, do people who cannot earn a living deserve to live? 

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I suppose the point that a concept like the Homeless World Cup tries to make is that it gives homeless people the opportunity to believe in themselves and reinstate them in society for their own self-esteem. People do have mixed feelings about reinstating individuals in a society. It is kind of like practicing behavioral therapy on children with autism so that they can make a living for themselves. But again, we live in a world where people with physical and psychological disabilities need to learn the ways of the abled world just to have shelter and some food in their stomachs. 

Spoilers Ahead

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How Does Vinny Meet Mal? 

Vincent Walker, or Vinny, is a black man living in London. He has a wife, Ellie, and a daughter, Evie; however, he doesn’t stay with them. Apparently, Vinny lives in his car. He does odd jobs and spends his days looking at kids playing football. Vinny loves football, and even his skills clearly match those of someone in the big leagues, and only later is it revealed that he was a professional football player. 

While playing football with kids, Mal Bradley spots Vinny dribbling the ball through the field. It seems that Mal already knows Vinny from before, and he’s aware of Vinny’s football skills. Mal strikes up a conversation with Vinny and offers for him to meet a football team of homeless players representing England in the Homeless World Cup. Vinny seems to know nothing about the World Cup, but the players are absolutely mesmerized by Vinny’s outstanding skills and invite him to play with them. Vinny, however, declines the offer, claiming that he’s not homeless. He adds that he has a job to get to and a wife and child waiting for him. Regardless of the lie, Mal finds out that he’s living out of his car and offers Vinny his card. 

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Why Does Vinny Change His Mind About Playing In The Tournament? 

Later on, he is fired from his job at a logistics company, and a meeting with his wife and child makes him realize that he needs to get the opportunity back. Vinny’s daughter is supposed to give a speech at the assembly about someone she admires and asks him to come visit. Vinny agrees to do so, but after Ellie encourages him to be truthful with Evie, who would be saddened if he didn’t make it, he reconsiders. He tells her that he’ll be in Rome, which is why he won’t be able to make it. Perhaps, somewhere in his mind, Vinny wanted Evie’s speech to be about him rather than Zendaya, which makes him think that this would be a moment his daughter could be proud of. 


What Problems Does The Team Face In Rome?

Vinny hits up Mal and agrees to Mal’s proposal for his participation. Going to Rome is a huge thing for this team of misfits, but here they are basking in the glory of being on an international football team. Even going to the airport and being on a plane is a first-time experience for these people. It is quite obvious that these players have faced their own demons in life. Even though they try to leave these demons behind, it is difficult to let go of these habits, especially with Jason. Jason ends up stealing from the stores at the airport, for which he is scolded by Mal. 

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As for Vinny, he hardly knows these people, and he struggles to open up to them. Despite being homeless himself, Vinny is quite prejudiced against his teammates. He thinks he’s above them, and they even lack conviction as players, failing to understand the very principles this tournament was made for. As a result, he’s been detached from the team. While the team members spend their time bonding and taking part in cultural activities, Vinny is nowhere to be seen. 

Moreover, Jason runs into trouble once again when he gets infatuated with US Team striker, Rosita Hernandez. However, he ends up making a crude remark instead of striking up a conversation normally. Disgusted by the remark, Rosita makes a complaint about Jason to her manager, who brings it up with Mal. The US team wants Jason to apologize and show accountability for his actions. Henceforth, Jason approaches Rosita and offers her the expensive fish that he stole from the airport store, apologizes for his actions, and adds how much he respects Rosita for the sportsperson that she is. Rosita finds Jason’s apology quite genuine, which later on strikes up a lighthearted romance between the two. 


How Is This Tournament Different From Regular Football?

Considering the players playing in this tournament are not professional players and do not even possess the same agility, the rules of homeless football are quite obviously different from regular football. The game runs in two halves of 7 minutes, and each team can only allow four members on a smaller court. Even the field is much smaller than a typical football field, which in a way accommodates the skills of people not from an athletic background. 


Why Is The South African Team Late To The Tournament?

The first match that England are supposed to play is against South Africa. But due to unforeseen circumstances, South Africa never made it to the game, making England win by default. It turns out the South African Team, managed by Sister Protasia, was still stuck in Cape Town airport. 

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In this poignant scene, the movie shows the different backgrounds that the players in this tournament come from. One of the players from the South African team was actually a refugee from Zimbabwe. Because of this person, the team was not allowed to leave, as he did not enter the country legally. However, Sister Protasia uses her social skills to convince the immigration officer to let the man board the plane. 

However, when they finally arrive in Rome, they are welcomed with warm regards. Sister Protasia even convinces Vinny to agree to a rematch without consulting Mal. However, Vinny thinks that it is the respectful thing to do. This behavior from England garners a lot of respect and positive responses from other people as well. 

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What Happens To The Japanese Team? 

The Japanese team is mostly made up of older homeless people. Despite modernization and a booming economy, Japan’s hyper-capitalistic society has always looked down on people who give up. There’s even a word, ‘hikikomori,’ for people who become shut-ins and isolate themselves from society. Many people are not privileged enough to sustain a lifestyle being shut in, which is why even a country like Japan has a significant homeless population. 

The Japanese Team is managed by Mika, a young Japanese woman leading a team of older and less talented players. Their losing streak at the Cup disappoints Mika a lot. The Japanese players are not even taking themselves seriously. However, Mika realizes that for the team to be distracted by the wonders of Rome is only natural. Being part of this team gave them a chance to not only represent their country but also live a dream that would’ve never come true for them. In their final match against England, the team decides that even if they score one goal, that’d be a win for the team. In the end, they exit the tournament with two goals against England’s ten, which doesn’t matter for them. They’re happy that they could be a part of this. 

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Why Does Nathan Go Back Home? 

Nathan is a recovering drug addict who shares the same room with Vinny. To deal with his withdrawal symptoms, Nathan is supposed to take a regular dose of methadone. However, Vinny doesn’t like it one bit  that he is sharing a room with a junkie. In fact, Vinny even prefers to sleep in the streets over sharing the suite with his team. At one point, he even makes a remark about Nathan, saying that athletes do not take drugs. 

Nathan, on the other hand, is mesmerized by Vinny because of his football skills. He looks up to Vinny and wishes to impress him. On multiple occasions, he is seen talking highly about Vinny even when it’s not reciprocated. When Vinny goes missing after an argument, he convinces his teammates to find him and make sure he’s okay. However, because of Vinny’s remark, he skips taking methadone, which starts giving him brain zaps. Nathan is unable to play the game, and his senses are dulled, making him return to England. 

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Does England Win The World Cup? 

Following a defeat to South Africa and a qualifying win against Japan, England finally enters the semi-finals. Their opponent, however, is Italy. The Italian team is equally strong as well, but losing Nathan, who was a good player, affects them a lot. Moreover, Aldar, being a Syrian Kurdish refugee, does not wish to play against Italy because the captain of the Italian team is a Turkmen Syrian. The Turkmen and the Kurds have been in a civil war. However, after Vinny is put on a stand due to a yellow card, Aldar changes his mind and enters the court anyway.  

Following a draw, the match goes into a penalty round. In the end, England loses the game; however, the audience is impressed by their performance, praising them. In another poignant moment, Aldar shakes hands with the Turkmen Captain of the Italian Team and then hugs him in a show of sportsmanship. Following their defeat, the team has an argument, which leads to discontentment as Vinny leaves again. The next day, England is supposed to play against the US for their spot in third place. However, waking up late, Vinny rushes to the stadium but is not allowed inside. Regardless, the English team ends up winning the game anyway. 

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What Happens To Vinny? 

During a dinner with Gabriella, Mal reveals that Vinny was indeed a football player for West Ham. Mal had scouted Vinny years ago, when he was still a kid. Vinny showed unusual talent as a footballer as well, and Mal had big plans for him. However, when he grew up, Vinny was let go by the team for not being good enough. For his entire life, Vinny had thought of himself as a footballer, but after being let go by West Ham, he lost all his confidence. This was part of the reason why Vinny looked down on his teammates, thinking they were not even committed. However, like everyone else, even Vinny was fighting his own demons. 

Following England’s win, which Vinny was unable to participate in, he is approached by Sister Protasia about playing for South Africa as one of their players is injured. Being the persuasive woman that she is, Protasia convinces Vinny either way. Much to his surprise, Vinny’s involvement leads the team to a victory. As the entire stadium cheers for South Africa as they raise their cup, Vinny decides to walk away quietly but is approached by Mal. Mal shows Vinny his notebook to prove that Vinny was always a skilled footballer. Mal reveals that he scouted Vinny years ago. The realization that a manager as prominent as Mal scouted him makes him realize that he was indeed good enough for the game. 

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The Beautiful Game ends with a rather inspirational note on how every person deserves a second chance. For people down on their luck, sometimes all they need is the opportunity and support to prove that they’re worth living a life of respect and dignity. 


Shrey Ashley Philip
Shrey Ashley Philip
A teacher, photographer, linguist, and songwriter, Shrey started out as a Biotechnology graduate, but shifted to studying Japanese. Now he talks about movies, advocates for ADHD awareness, and embraces Albert Camus.

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