In the News

Cards of Qatar - The Stories Behind the Migrant Workers of the World Cup

Tony Hardman

22nd November 2022

Guest blogger Tony Hardman visited the National Football Museum in Manchester at the weekend and came across the Cards of Qatar exhibition. Here are his thoughts ....

As a youngster the panini sticker album was a huge and exciting part of the World Cup tournament - finding out about the players who would be battling it out on the world stage for the famous golden trophy, and in many cases seeing images of our heroes for the first time.

A recent trip to the National Football Museum reminded me that this World Cup would be like no other for many reasons. One of those reasons is the death of thousands of migrant workers involved in the construction of infrastructure for the tournament, including stadia and hotels.

In the National Football Museum there is a small yet poignant exhibit, entitled ‘Cards of Qatar’. The exhibit states that:

'Since Qatar was awarded the World Cup, thousands of migrant workers have died or been injured in Qatar. The Cards of Qatar series has been created by Blankspot. They show the personal stories behind the statistics.'

At first glance the cards look just like the famous Panini football stickers that are currently being collected by fans up and down the country. Yet these cards are very different. Each card is a mini biography of one of the thousands of migrant workers who have lost their lives. Their stories made more stark by the inclusion of a photograph of most of the deceased, making far more human their story than a mere statistic.

'These workers are not just statistics. Their stories need to be heard. At first glance, everything from the portraits, the glossy surface, and the packaging creates the impression of authentic football cards. But at a closer look, the portraits and stories belong to migrant workers in Qatar, each with an unfiltered story', says Martin Schibbye, chief editor and co-founder of Blankspot.

When I think back to those happy days as a child swapping football stickers on the playground, the enormity of this collection hits home - it is a collection that no football fan would ever want to start, never mind complete.

Find out more about the Cards of Qatar collection.

Tony Hardman

Tony Hardman is an experienced teacher and examiner of 20 years. He is Manchester born and bred.

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