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The biggest, most watched live event in the world takes place this weekend. That’s the World Cup final (Sunday, CTV, TSN 11 a.m. ET), between France and Croatia. The World Cup final matches in 2010 and 2014 each attracted an average of 3.2 billion viewers, making the Super Bowl look like the little regional event it is.

The other major event this weekend is the debut of Showtime’s Who is America? (in Canada it streams on CraveTV, starting on Sunday) and although the content is hush-hush, we do know it is Sacha Baron Cohen, doing some variation of his Ali G/Borat character and taking aim at Trump’s America. Showtime calls it “perhaps the most dangerous show in the history of television.”

With this World Cup ending, the next tournament comes into view. That’s the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar. Yes, Qatar.

POV: The Workers Cup (Sunday, PBS, 10:30 p.m.) is a stunning documentary about the people toiling to build the infrastructure for the event in Qatar. It has been known for several years that many of the mostly migrant workers live and labour in horrific conditions. Two years ago, Amnesty International’s director general said, “The abuse of migrant workers is a stain on the conscience of world football. For players and fans, a World Cup stadium is a place of dreams. For some of the workers who spoke to us, it can feel like a living nightmare.”

Adam Sobel’s documentary, The Workers Cup (it debuted at Sundance, to glowing reviews), gives us a full picture of the workers and their conditions, and their hopes and dreams. Dreams dashed, mostly. His focus, referenced in the title, is a soccer tournament organized by the construction companies in Qatar for the workers building stadiums where, one day, the game’s superstars will perform.

Open this photo in gallery:

African and Asian migrant workers building the facilities of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

It’s a token gesture, a desperate move, too, by the authorities who were fed up with the condemnation of their treatment of the workers. Qatar isn’t used to being condemned and vilified. What the doc – airing on some, but not all, PBS stations – illustrates is how this absurd little tournament, much appreciated by many of the labourers, is an ephemeral taste of liberty from the extraordinary grind of working seven days a week for years. They live in very basic work camps that they are not allowed to leave. Many have had their passports and other official papers confiscated to ensure they don’t quit or attempt to return home.

There are roughly 1.6 million migrant workers in tiny Qatar. The population of the country is about 313,000 Qatari citizens and there are 2.3 million expatriate workers doing everything from managing construction and broadcasting ventures, to building the infrastructure for the World Cup (eight stadiums are being constructed, and are promised to have advanced cooling technologies) and other planned events in Qatar.

Sobel has excellent access to the workers. You have to wonder if the authorities, usually hostile to the media, thought that highlighting this little soccer tournament would wipe away the stain of accusations made by organizations such as Amnesty International. As if this would be a feel-good sports story about plucky underdogs. Instead, men from several African countries, from India, Bangladesh and Nepal, speak frankly about being imprisoned inside not just Qatar, but an entire international industrial ecosystem that exploits migrant workers desperate to earn a living wage and support their families.

It’s almost all men we see in the doc. One or two women are seen fleetingly. One man from Nepal talks longingly of his wife and their two sons at home in Nepal. He is a big Manchester United fan and named the two boys after players on the team. And here he is, lonely, exploited and toiling to build the temples of soccer the great players want to reach.

At its heart, The Workers Cup is a deeply angry work, but doesn’t preach. It simply asks the audience to look at these men and admire their fortitude, their hearts of oak, but also to consider the heartbreak behind and beneath the surface of a huge sports tournament that offers enjoyment to an unthinking world.

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