Soccer in film - Air Bud 3: World Pup

In this series of articles, CBC Sports will highlight some of film and television contributions to the world of soccer. This entry, we look at the timeless classic, Air Bud 3: World Pup.

Featuring a penalty kick strategy that is ahead of its time


In this series, CBC Sports will take a look at some film and television contributions to the world of soccer and try to insert humour where appropriate. Expect mixed results. 

Our first piece looks at the timeless classic, Air Bud 3: World Pup.


Air Bud completes its magnificent trilogy in this tour-de-force, where that kid who owns Air Bud discovers that along with basketball and football, Air Bud can also play soccer. This officially makes him the greatest sporting mammal in history, ahead of Bo Jackson and that Chinese circus bear who ate a monkey during a show.

So Air Bud joins a high school soccer team because the high school doesn’t play by “the rules” and nobody cares anyway. Some stuff happens. Air Bud scores with his head a bunch of times.

Then Air Bud stops the final penalty kick to win the Women’s World Cup. Because that’s how story works in movies. 

Football realism meter

It’s as real as you’re going to get watching a dog imbued with the spirit of Eusebio dribble past the worst high school soccer players on earth. Speaking of that: can a dog get called for handball? Or are all of his paws considered “feet?” FIFA would probably need to write an entire section on this.

But let’s focus on this particular sequence though, because that kid totally had it coming and it also brings up an interesting question about The Rules of Football.

After you’ve finished being in shock over how insane that scene is, ask yourself this: can you take a penalty kick with your head? Of course not! That’s illegal, right?

Wrong. So wrong. On FIFA’s website, the rules for penalty kicks never mention anywhere that taking a penalty with your head is illegal. Likely because it would be pretty dumb. But it’s not, per se, illegal.

It would probably end badly for any human attempting this, so you’re 100 per cent likely to see England try it at one point during the World Cup.

IMDB Reviews

These are actual reviews written by actual people

“Having watched one Air Bud I yet again showed the world how stubborn and stupid I am by returning to watch part 3. Obviously I was worried about how I would cope picking up the narrative having missed out on seeing Golden Retriever.”

Yes you really lose the full impact of the time travel storyline if you don’t watch them in order.

“At least if you're a Disney fanatic (well, of the variety who loves their live-action films as well as the animated stuff), if you're a kid, if you're a kid at heart almost to the extent that you hardly realize you're an adult, if you love absolutely any film that features animals, especially when they're doing tricks, or if you're just not too demanding, Air Bud: World Pup is somewhat enjoyable to watch.”

There are maybe eight qualifiers in that sentence.

Final rating

Four paws.


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