Is Netflix’s The Fight for Justice: Paolo Guerrero Based on a True Story?

Directed by Javier Fuentes-León and Daniel Vega Vidal, Netflix’s ‘The Fight for Justice: Paolo Guerrero’ is a sports drama series that delves into the world of football. Paolo Guerrero is an accomplished Peruvian footballer who rises through the ranks thanks to his talent and hardwork. He is then shocked to discover that he has been tested positive for drugs just months before the World Cup. This puts him in serious jeopardy and a long ban. Paolo is determined to prove his innocence and fights every obstacle to regain his right to play and his respect.

A touching story of an athlete’s love for the game and the lengths he can go to reclaim his glory, the show also portrays the dark side of the sports arena, that is, drug usage. Featuring a stellar performance by Nicco Ponce as the titular football star, ‘The Fight for Justice: Paolo Guerrero’ amazes the audience with its realistic narrative and themes, as well as the lifelike depiction of football as a sport. All this makes one wonder if the show has any connection with real life and if even you’re curious to know the same, here is what we found!

Is The Fight for Justice: Paolo Guerrero a True Story?

Yes, ‘The Fight for Justice: Paolo Guerrero’ is based on a true story. The biographical series follows the story of Paolo Guerrero (a Peruvian footballer) who was accused of drug use in 2018. Born in Lima on January 1, 1984. He began his domestic career in Club Alianza Lima as a youth soccer player. Paolo began playing for Bayern Munich in 2003. He scored 21 goals in 23 matches during the 2003-04 season.

In 2006, he switched football teams to Hamburger SV. Later in 2012, he moved to Corinthians where he scored their winning goal against Chelsea at the FIFA World Cup final. He eventually played for the Flamenco, Internacional, and Avaí football clubs, becoming one of the most sought-after strikers in the country. On the national front, Paolo started playing for Peru’s national team as a U17 player in 2001; afterward, he played in the U23 tournaments before becoming a part of the senior national team in 2004.

Not just that, Paolo is the first player from his country to be a nominee for the prestigious FIFA Ballon d’Or in 2015. Moreover, Paolo had an impressive track record in the prestigious Copa América tournaments as well as in the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers held in 2017. However, things came crashing down for the athlete in October of the same year when he failed a doping control test for an allegedly “social drug.” As a result, he was handed a month-long suspension by FIFA and had to sit out the rest of the World Cup qualifying campaign.

It was revealed that Paolo had tested positive in December 2017 for benzoylecgonine. This is a metabolic derivative of cocaine. FIFA banned Paolo from all tournaments for one year after this shocking revelation. However, his lawyers appealed quickly to FIFA and said that he didn’t use cocaine but had instead accidentally drunk coca tea. This is a traditional herbal infusion that shares its key component. Two disciplinary panels concurred with the justification and the ban was reduced by six months.

Sadly, things worsened in May 2018, when the Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld an appeal by the World Anti-Doping Agency and extended his prohibition to 14 months, causing the footballer’s removal from the tournament. Although the court ruled that Paolo had not used coca tea to enhance his performance, he was still responsible for his error. When the Swiss Federal Tribunal temporarily lifted Paolo’s ban in May 2018, things looked a bit better for him as he was about to be absent from the FIFA World Cup 2018.

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Paolo Guerrero//Image Credit: Movistar Deportes Perú/YouTube

Paolo was thus allowed to participate in the international tournament. He was to continue his ban until July 2018, when the World Cup was over. In June 2018, Paolo made a fabulous comeback to the field and assisted André Carrillo in scoring Peru’s first World Cup goal in 36 years. Furthermore, the 34-year-old became the oldest Peruvian player to participate in the FIFA World Cup, and finally, in May 2019, he returned to play in the Copa América tournament.

In July that year, Paolo’s winning goal helped his country secure a place in the finals for the first time since 1975, and Paolo has not looked back since then. He is presently playing as a striker for Avaí and looks forward to promising days ahead. In spite of all the allegations against him in 2017-18, he showed courage and believed he would be proven innocent.

In a May 2018 interview, Paolo stated, “I’m a fighter…I’ve always fought when the road has been difficult. It’s not easy to become a professional footballer. I worked hard to be one. I’ll keep fighting, keep demonstrating my innocence, and do everything in my hands to play in the World Cup. I’m not going to let my head drop and just go to my bed and lie down.” His determination was indeed supported by his admirers, and despite the continuation of his ban, he managed to restore his honor.

‘The Fight for Justice: Paolo Guerrero’ intricately examines all the events mentioned above and dives into the footballer’s state of mind during those difficult days, especially how he coped with all the questions about his integrity. Though slightly embellished for creative purposes, it is largely authentic in documenting Paolo’s fight to prove his innocence and get back on his feet to what he considers home- the football field.

Continue reading: Best Football Movies and Shows On Netflix

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