Film Club: ‘What Happens to the Migrant Workers Who Built the World Cup?’

Film Club: ‘What Happens to the Migrant Workers Who Built the World Cup?’

Note to teachers: This will be the last Film Club of the year. Film Club will resume on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023.

Are you a soccer fan? Is the World Cup a big deal for you or for people where you live? Do you have a favorite team or player?

While around a billion people are expected to watch the final on Dec. 18, few know the stories of the people who helped make the World Cup possible.

“What Happens to the Migrant Workers Who Built the World Cup?” is an eight-minute film that profiles some of the thousands of migrant workers who remade Qatar for its World Cup moment. But in chasing desperately needed paychecks abroad, many pay a heavy price.

What can we learn from the stories of the World Cup’s forgotten team?


1. Watch the short film above. While you watch, you might take notes using our Film Club Double-Entry Journal (PDF) to help you remember specific moments.

2. After watching, think about these questions:

  • What questions do you still have?

  • What connections can you make between this film and your own life or experience? Why? Does this film remind you of anything else you’ve read or seen? If so, how and why?

3. An additional challenge | Respond to the essential question at the top of this post: Who are the migrant workers that made the World Cup possible?

4. Next, join the conversation by clicking on the comment button and posting in the box that opens on the right. (Students 13 and older are invited to comment, although teachers of younger students are welcome to post what their students have to say.)

5. After you have posted, try reading back to see what others have said, then respond to someone else by posting another comment. Use the “Reply” button or the @ symbol to address that student directly.

6. To learn more, read “The World Cup Is Ending, but the Migrant Labor Economy Grinds On.” Nicole Salazar, Pramod Acharya and Sarah Kerr write:

KATHMANDU, Nepal — As the World Cup comes to a close, what will happen to the workers who helped Qatar make it possible?

The small nation of Nepal has sent more workers to Qatar per capita than any other country.

In the fall of 2022, The New York Times spoke to nearly three dozen Nepalis — current and former construction workers in Qatar and members of their families — to learn what their lives are like now and what is next for them. Most had worked on construction projects related to the World Cup, including stadiums and other infrastructure that supported Qatar’s development boom.

After enduring at times exploitative or dangerous conditions, many workers said they remained stuck in poverty and debt, with no choice but to continue to work abroad, whatever the risks.

“Working in a foreign country is not a choice,” said one worker, Ganga Bahadur Sunuwar. “We are compelled to do it.” Mr. Sunuwar, 44, is now back home in Kathmandu after years of working in a steel factory in Qatar, where doctors say he developed severe occupational asthma.

Want more student-friendly videos? Visit our Film Club column.

Students 13 and older in the United States and Britain, and 16 and older elsewhere, are invited to comment. All comments are moderated by the Learning Network staff, but please keep in mind that once your comment is accepted, it will be made public.

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