By Barry Janoff
October 22, 2013: In 1992, Fox aired an episode of The Simpsons entitled "Homer at the Bat," which starred what arguably is the most iconic family in the history of animation alongside nearly a dozen MLB stars of the time, including Don Mattingly, Ken Griffey Jr., Darryl Strawberry, Ozzie Smith and Jose Canseco.
More than 20 years later, The Simpsons is planning to team up with soccer clubs and players from around the world to not only help celebrate the show's 25th year on the air but also to tie in with the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
And, of course, to sell merchandise.
According to Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products, a division of The Simpsons' production company 20th Century Fox Television (in association with Gracie Films), "A broad line of branded merchandise created in conjunction with acclaimed international soccer teams, including FC Barcelona, FC Zenit Saint Petersburg, Corinthians and Boca Juniors will be available to consumers in 2014."
More national and international clubs will be added to the licensing partnership in the coming months.
In addition to new merchandise, each participating club will "Simpsonize" versions of some of its existing goods as part of the entire line of products.
A key part of the global push will be a soccer-themed episode, “You Don’t Have to Live Like a Referee,” which will air on Fox. The plot features Homer Simpson and his recruitment as a FIFA World Cup referee, which entails the entire family traveling to Brazil, site of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The episode is scheduled to premiere in March.
“This is the perfect opportunity to present a line of soccer merchandise, promotions and content that will leave an indelible imprint on The Simpsons fans around the world.”
The 2014 FIFA World Cup will run from June 12-July 13.
An animated versions of international soccer star Ronaldo appeared in a 2007 episode of The Simpsons, and Homer, Ronaldo and numerous other soccer stars appeared in a 2010 Nike spot, "Write the Future," that ran before and during the FIFA World Cup that year.
“2014 is the year of soccer with the FIFA World Cup, serving to connect fans from cities, towns and villages around the world to experience the biggest sporting event,” Jeffrey Godsick, president, Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products, which is part of The Fox Brodcasting Co., said in a statement. “This is the perfect opportunity to present a line of soccer merchandise, promotions and content that will leave an indelible imprint on The Simpsons fans around the world.”
In “You Don’t Have to Live Like a Referee,” Homer is recruited as a FIFA World Cup referee after daughter Lisa "praises his integrity in a Springfield Elementary speech contest held on the youth soccer field." The clan travels to Brazil and run into numerous obstacles, including "slick South American gangsters [who are] in the soccer match-bribing business."
The Simpsons, which first aired as shorts during The Tracey Ullman Show in 1987, premiered as a half-hour series in December 1989. With more than 530 episodes, it has since become the American sitcom, the longest-running animated series and the longest-running scripted show in television history.
Back to Homer Page