Side Games

TV review by
Polly Conway, Common Sense Media
Side Games TV Poster Image
Dark exploration of corruption in soccer has violence.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Fighting against corruption is a noble cause, but sometimes violence is used to make things happen. 

Positive Role Models

People aren't always honest and act against each other for personal gain. 


A man is brutally beaten to death with a metal tool. Riots occur at games and people are hurt. 


A man is shown nude from the back in a shower. 


"F--k," "s--t," "a--hole."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters drink beer and whiskey. Another smokes frequently. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Side Games is a Spanish drama series about the dark side of professional soccer. This Spanish-language (but subtitled in English) show provides a look into the vast Leon soccer world, from players, announcers, bookies, management, local government, and primarily the dispute over who should become the new club president. Corruption is found everywhere in the form of rigged games, and characters go so far as to murder in order to get what they want. Violence includes visuals of said murder, a man being beaten to death with a metal tool, and crowds fighting at games. "F--k," "s--t," and "a--hole" are heard, and a man's naked body is shown from the back as he washes blood and dirt off of himself. Characters drink beer and whiskey. This show will be interesting to more mature soccer fans, but also presents an underworld that all mystery and drama fans will find themselves intrigued by. 

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What's the story?

In SIDE GAMES, local Leon businessman Mariano Hidalgo (Roberto Enriquez) is making a run to oust the town football club's current president, the corrupt Fernando Saldana. He's got a supportive team on his side, including his father and daughter, but it won't be easy. The web of corruption goes deep, from players like Tatin Delgado who accept bribes, bookies who rig the games, and an unruly group of supporters, the Zambezis, that work for Saldana and are happy to do violent acts and incite riots upon his request. Local mayor Nuria Ballesteros is also embroiled in the fray -- will she continue to support Saldana or is it worth it to change allegiance? 

Is it any good?

There are shades of Succession in this fascinating series that explores the dark side of the football industry. The vast array of characters that work together (and against each other) to oust the corrupt old guard and bring in a new (possibly equally corrupt) family are a pleasure to get to know, even if they're hard to trust. Highlights include the game announcer who always seems to speak the truth, and Mrs. Hidalgo, whose role in the coup is to lazily smoke in front of the TV. Those who aren't familiar with the world of football will enjoy seeing how the industry works, while those who are fans will be able to see the loving touches that Side Games brings; it's clear it was created by lovers of the game.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about soccer, or football as it is known in other countries. Why do you think it's such a popular sport internationally? Do you like watching or playing? 

  • Do you think this level of corruption happens in all sports? How do you think sports can avoid things like illegal betting, bribes, and other behaviors that make the game less fun? 

  • Do you like stories like Side Games where it's hard to tell who's "good" or "bad?" What makes people make certain choices? Are bad choices ever valid? 

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love sports

Themes & Topics

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