COLUMBUS, OH – OCTOBER 7: Goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen #1 of Sporting Kansas City reacts to taunting from the crowd during a game against the Columbus Crew on October 7, 2012 at Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
PARK CITY, Utah (AP) Director Adam Sobel never intended to end up in Qatar, but it was 2010, jobs were scarce in the U.S. and his longtime girlfriend – now his wife – had just been offered a job teaching at a Northwestern University Qatar. So they went.
While there, Sobel found work with a local production company that did news stories and documentaries for outlets like BBC, CNN, and HBO. One particular story was requested frequently: That of the migrant workers who were building the facilities for the 2022 Qatar World Cup. He didn’t know it at the time, but the assignment would ultimately provide the foundation for his documentary, “The Workers Cup,” which premiered Thursday night at the Sundance Film Festival.
“Because the subject is so sensitive and because media restrictions were so significant, we either had to hide people’s identities or work undercover. The human touch was lost,” Sobel said. “We wanted to do something that went much deeper than that and really honored the workers for their sacrifices and their hopes and their dreams rather than doing something that just saw them as victims … I wanted to build empathy for the workers instead of sympathy.”
The film centers on the multinational men, from Kenya, Ghana, India and the Philippines, who have given their lives over to slavery-like contracts and dangerous conditions to build the stadiums from the ground up. One man, Kenneth, who was a soccer player in Ghana, shares his story about how a recruiter had told him that if he came to Qatar, he’d get a club soccer contract. It was a lie, and now he’s stuck in Qatar under horrific circumstances.
“We’ve had a lot of context about how the recruiting agents are selling a false bill of goods but certainly I didn’t expect that to be wrapped up in a professional soccer contract,” Sobel said.
The title of the documentary refers to the FIFA-sponsored “workers cup” whereby teams from different construction companies play against one another in a tournament. For men like Kenneth, it takes on a greater poignancy. Yes, it’s a welcome distraction from the conditions, but the fact remains that they are still stuck there.
“We saw (the tournament) as an opportunity because we knew they were interested in promoting this and showing to the world that workers welfare standards were improving,” Sobel said. “There was a definite PR angle there that we took advantage of and we somehow managed to stick around and keep shooting in the camps. We were able to actually get pretty close to the story.”
Sobel worked on the documentary for three years, and kept it completely secret for two due to the sensitive nature of what he planned to show and the strict media standards in the country. He’s excited that his subjects are getting their voices heard at Sundance.
“It’s a story about these guys whose lives have been sacrificed in some way for our own entertainment and that in and of itself reveals that we’re all complicit in the system,” Sobel said. “This is a story of globalization.”
Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ldbahr
PARIS (AP) The French league will open an investigation after Nice striker Mario Balotelli spoke out against Bastia fans he said made monkey noises during a match on Friday night.
In a brief statement Saturday afternoon, the French League said it “deplored all of the incidents” that happened on Friday. Before the match, Nice’s team bus had been pelted by stones as it arrived at the stadium.
The LFP’s disciplinary committee will start looking into the matters when it convenes on Thursday and once it has received further information from officials and both clubs.
Balotelli wrote a message on his Instagram and Twitter pages earlier on Saturday, describing the abuse he heard during the 1-1 draw at the 20,000-capacity Armand Cesari stadium in Corsica and complaining that the French league had not acted swiftly enough.
“Is it normal that Bastia supporters make monkey noise (and) `uh’ `uh’ for the whole game and no one of the `commissions discipline’ say nothing?” Balotelli wrote, referencing the French league’s disciplinary committee. “So is racism legal in France? Or only in Bastia? Football is an amazing sport. Those people like Bastia supporters make it horrible!”
Balotelli, 26, the son of Ghanaian immigrants to Italy, concluded his post by writing in French that what happened was “une vrai honte,” or a total disgrace.
Nice’s official Twitter account shared Balotelli’s message. On its website, the French Riviera club threw its support behind Balotelli.
“Nice, which already had stones thrown at its bus before the game, is outraged by what happened to its players on Friday night, and in particular to Mario Balotelli,” a statement read.
Bastia did not immediately respond to an email from the AP seeking a response to Balotelli’s claim.
Balotelli joined from Liverpool on a free transfer in August and has scored eight league goals in 10 games to help Nice challenge for the title.
He did not say in his message whether or not he had informed referee Clement Turpin, who had the authority to stop the game, of the crowd’s actions. Commentators from broadcaster Canal Plus, which covered the game, made no mention of any racist abuse during the match.
In May 2013, when playing for Italian side AC Milan, Balotelli was subject to racist abuse from visiting Roma fans, causing the Serie A game to be briefly halted by the referee during the second half after warnings to stop the abuse were made throughout the stadium. Massimiliano Allegri, Milan’s coach at the time, made stinging comments against those who had racially abused Balotelli.
Bastia was docked two points by the LFP in the 2007-08 season after its fans racially abused Burkina Faso forward Boubacar Kebe by holding up a banner during a second-division home game against Libourne. The kickoff was delayed by a few minutes until the banner aimed at Kebe was removed.
Antonio Conte‘s Chelsea received everything they wished for on Saturday after several of the Premier League’s big boys all dropped points in crushing fashion.
Now, the Blues have the opportunity to extend their gap at the top of England on Sunday while two other matches are slated on the day.
[ MORE: All of PST’s PL coverage ]
Southampton vs. Leicester City — 7 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com
The Saints will have to make do without one of its most important defensive figures following the sale of Jose Fonte, however, Claude Puel‘s men won’t have to deal with several of Leicester’s attacking threats as the African Cup of Nations rolls on. Riyad Mahrez, Islam Slimani and Daniel Amartey will each be absent for the Foxes as they play for their respective sides at the tournament.
Southampton has taken points against Leicester in four straight PL fixtures (1 W, 3 D), however both sides have been vastly inconsistent in form throughout the campaign. Leicester striker Jamie Vardy and his side continue to struggle, with the Englishman having posted just five goals this season after netting 24 in league play a season ago.
Arsenal vs. Burnley — 9:15 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com
The Gunners are unbeaten in five straight matches against Burnley, and Sunday presents the chance for Arsene Wenger‘s side to win its fifth consecutive fixture against the Clarets. Wenger’s men currently sit eight points behind league leaders Chelsea, and after the rest of the the PL’s title contenders slipped up on Saturday the Gunners will be looking to avoid any stumble at the Emirates Stadium.
Olivier Giroud is expected to be back for Arsenal, while Hector Bellerin, Kieran Gibbs and Francis Coquelin are also healthy once more. Meanwhile, the Clarets are said to be expecting Dean Marney, Ashley Barnes and Johann Berg Gudmundsson back in the squad after missing the team’s FA Cup victory during the midweek.
Chelsea vs. Hull City — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com
The Blues will be expected to take advantage of this match but all eyes will be on Antonio Conte’s team sheet, particularly with close attention on Diego Costa. The Spaniard was said to have missed the team’s last PL match due to a back injury, although reports have also suggested interest from China. Chelsea has yet to lose to Hull in nine PL fixtures, having won seven encounters and drawn the other two matches.
Meanwhile, Hull could have some of its reinforcements available on Sunday, including Olympiakos defender Omar Elabdellaoui. The Tigers will have a massive task at hand against the Blues, who have won 14 of their last 15 league matches. Marco Silva’s side currently sits in the relegation zone, however, a victory could propel the team above both Crystal Palace and Swansea City.Follow @MattReedFutbol
Well, it didn’t take long for Emerson Hyndman to make an impression at his new club.
The U.S. Men’s National Team midfielder provided the game-winning assist for Scottish side Rangers in Saturday’s 2-1 Scottish Cup win over Motherwell after picking out Kenny Miller for his second goal of the match.
Hyndman, 20, joined the Scottish giants in January after coming over on loan from Premier League side Bournemouth. The rising USMNT attacker only made three appearances for the Cherries prior to completing the loan move to Rangers.
The former FC Dallas academy product has risen through the USMNT set up over recent years, appearing for the Under-17, U-20 and U-23 sides before Hyndman earning his first cap with the senior team in 2014.
Check out Hyndman’s game-winning assist below.