As Qatar begins building $22 billion worth of infrastructure for their hosting of the 2022 World Cup, an influx of migrant workers from Africa, China, Tibet, India, Bangladesh, and other impoverished parts of the world have arrived to help complete the tall order. There are so many migrant workers in Qatar at the moment working for comparably pitiful wages (with the number steadily rising) that 60% of the country’s population at the moment are workers. In a bid to boost morale amongst the workers – who often work twelve hour shifts, seven days a week – a friendly FIFA sponsored soccer tournament amongst the twenty major contracting corporations has been announced.
First time filmmaker Adam Sobel follows the squad working for Gold Coast Contracting throughout The Workers Cup, and in the process he delivers not only a rousing sports film, but also uncovers working practices that sometimes dangerously toe the line of human rights abuses. These young men have come to Qatar to make a better life for their families, but they’re essentially blocked from ever bringing them over, and the money they make for their backbreaking labour building enormous stadiums doesn’t go very far. If they aren’t working, they’re training for the pitch (with the cup acting almost as a free commercial for the winning squad). There’s no time for enjoyment. They go back to their tiny “camps” and are told to stay out of the eyeline of the public at large.
The sports drama on and off the pitch is okay, and unpredictable, but the real draw here is what happens on the periphery of the tournament. That’s far more telling of what it takes for a country to pull off the biggest sporting event in the world.