The Workers Cup

In 2010, Qatar was picked to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup -- a first for an Arab nation -- unleashing a massive construction and promotion bonanza. There are now more than 1.6 million migrant workers there, making up 60 percent of the population and living in poverty, in a country that has the highest per capita income in the world.

These workers reside in massive labor camps located far from the glittering business centers of Doha. They come from places like Ghana and Kenya and Nepal and the Philippines. They can't leave the country or even quit their jobs. They're not allowed to enter the city's brightly lit shopping malls.

In 2016, as a way of testing out some of the facilities under construction and also supposedly "to make the workers a part of football," Qatar's Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy organized The Workers Cup, in which teams of laborers from 24 of the largest international corporations working in the region would compete against each other.

Director Adam Sobel focuses on the efforts of one team in particular, Gulf Contracting Company. We see these men at work -- laboring in kitchens or construction sites or even drab, poorly paid desk jobs -- and then on the field, where they let loose, becoming figures of grace and spirit. We also see how they become ever more devoted to their company as the tournament proceeds. I found myself rooting for the GCC team, as the film eases its way into something resembling a sports movie; on the other hand, we see the system in which GCC operates. Sobel lets these conflicting feelings hang in the air, offering no pat conclusions.

Credits

Director:

  • Adam Sobel

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