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The Price of Glory is an HBO Real Sports investigation into Qatar’s plan to achieve international recognition through sport and the price it has exacted in fair play, human rights, and even human lives. Our investigation found that the Qatari sports plan is one of unprecedented ambition and ruthlessness, based on the exploitation of foreign labor on and off the field. To build world-class athletic teams, Qatar has crisscrossed the world, paying athletes from the poorest countries on earth to become naturalized Qatari citizens. Real Sports heard it first hand from an entire team of Bulgarian weightlifters paid by Qatar to assume Arabic identities and represent the Gulf state in international competition. Our story detailed the systemic bribery that allowed this stiflingly hot desert sheikhdom without a soccer tradition to improbably win the right to host the 2022 World Cup. Ten months before a series of arrests of FIFA officials suspected of taking bribes, Real Sports spoke with a former FIFA insider about the corrupt bidding process, and detailed how Qatari officials bought their way to the very top of world soccer by plying FIFA officials on five continents. Off the field, Real Sports documented how Qatar’s sports glory is built on the backs of hundreds of thousands of the poorest people in Asia, imported and indentured to create a lavish World Cup city in the desert. Our team watched workers toil in 117-degree heat and followed them into the decrepit labor camps few outsiders have seen in order to expose the brutal conditions in which they are bonded into effective slavery. Viewers will see why thousands of these migrant workers are projected to die on the job by the time the 2022 World Cup games begin. When we first aired the piece the Qatari government told us changes were coming and that we should stand by. We took them up on their offer and revisited the situation a year later, only to find that none of the changes to the bonded labor system—known as Kafala—had taken place. In fact Nepali migrant workers were even prohibited from returning home after a massive earthquake ravaged their country. Worse still—our follow-up investigation found that some of the top people in Qatari sport weren’t just using their money to buy athletes, they were using it to fund terrorist organizations and invite radical jihadi clerics to speak at their elite sports academy. Our project spanned four years of research, four continents, and scores of interviews with athletes, activists, migrant workers, FIFA insiders, and US government officials.
Days after the completion of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” looked ahead and across the world to Qatar — the tiny desert sheikhdom that had improbably won the right to host the 2022 World Cup. The “Real Sports” report told the story of how this largely obscure but wildly-rich nation – the wealthiest per capita on earth – had embarked on a plan to put itself on the map through sports. But they would make that march to glory at seemingly any cost – be it fair play, human rights, or even human lives. Blessed with the largest deposits of liquefied natural gas in the world, Qatar has developed a national sports plan like the world has never seen.
A videotape smuggled out of the United Arab Emirates shows violent and graphic torture carried out by the brother of the "country's crown prince." A former business associate of the prince's brother released the tapes and revealed that he was tortured, too. The UAE government initially denied wrongdoing, but as word spread, eventually detained the member of the royal family. It is also suggested that the U.S. Embassy in the UAE ignored the issue.