Darryl Wharton-Rigby’s screenplay will centre on a courier tasked with bringing $3m (£1.76m) across the Atlantic to Brazil in an effort to stop the Ghanaian football team quitting the competition in protest at lack of pay.
It is based on a real-life impasse which affected the west African team prior to their exit at the group stage last week, though fictional elements will be incorporated to further spice up the proposed movie.
The plot sees the $3m stolen after the courier is ambushed. He then has fewer than 12 hours to recover the money or face the wrath of his employers (and presumably the Ghanaian footballers).
“The world has soccer fever and Hollywood has caught it,” said Wharton-Rigby, a former staff writer for Homicide: Life on the Street, the celebrated Emmy-winning TV series from producer David Simon which predated the even more successful The Wire.
The screenplay has been optioned by US production company Bugeater, whose founders Dan Mirvish and Barry Hennessey will produce the film. Hennessy, an Emmy winner for reality TV show The Amazing Race, told the Wrap: “I’ve shot extensively in both Ghana and Brazil, and this is a perfect project to capture the raw energy that both countries have to offer.”
Ghana’s president, John Dramani Mahama, was forced to send a plane containing $3m to Brasília for the players to share after a row over appearance fees threatened to see the team go on strike. Ghana, who at one point refused to train due to lack of renumeration, subsequently lost their final group match 2-1 to Portugal and exited the competition.
Wharton-Rigby’s 1998 film Detention won the best director prize at the Urbanworld film festival. The thriller is the second football-related project to emerge in the past few weeks, following news that Hollywood studio Warner Bros plans to capitalise on US World Cup fever with a remake of cult classic Michael Caine tale Escape to Victory.