Canal+’s Soccer Fan Hasn’t Missed a Match in 30 Years, but Hasn’t Seen One Either

Fun promo for France's 'clásico'

Soccer fun fact: A "clásico," which originally referred to a Real Madrid vs. Barcelona game, now means any game between fierce rivals within the same country—like Manchester United vs. Liverpool—making them highly anticipated national events. 

On Feb. 7, France's clásico will take place between Olympique de Marseille (OM) and Paris Saint-Germain. To build hype for the game, cable network Canal+, which has had exclusive rights to the broadcast for the last 20 years, released a new ad called "The Fan."

Created by BETC, the spot is so much more than your garden-variety soliloquy about the personal significance of the sport in the life of a die-hard OM follower.

This story has a twist. Watch the full, unspoilered version below. 

The poor guy works in stadium security.

That means he can never watch the matches happening right behind him, on the same field he's standing on … that is, until the day his daughter—who, if her dad's anything like the sports fans in our family, probably gets short shrift attention-wise—uses Canal+ to help him witness a long-cherished moment for the first time. 

"Some games you just can't miss," the ad concludes, and the smile that lights our fan's face up is priceless. It's the smile of the dedicated, dogged and downtrodden devotee getting his payoff.

But it's also the redeeming smile of our jocular, middle-aged dads, who, after decades of career fidelity, have poured all of their human passion into something that everyone else in the family might consider pointless, or just not worthy of so much energy. (For my dad, it's boats. Boats in bottles. Boats at boat shows. And the lonely forgotten boat of Joe DiMaggio, still sitting in our home dock.)

Sports ads are probably best characterized for stoking the contagious emotions of fans and shining a spotlight on an underdog. In this sense, "The Fan" fits neatly in its genre. But it also refreshes with smart use of drama, comedic timing and tiny twists that refocus interest … and are, incidentally, the key selling points of Canal+ in France, which easily invites comparison to HBO.

Solid work here; it's almost enough to make us want to watch dudes kick balls.