With less than a month until the start of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, ESPN’s primetime newsmagazine devotes an entire show to some of the biggest names and best stories in the beautiful game. Features will include a rare interview with Argentina’s superstar Lionel Messi, a profile of perhaps the greatest player of all-time Pelé as he travels across two continents, and the very personal backstory of US Men’s team captain Clint Dempsey. In addition, there will be an investigative pieceby Jeremy Schaap looking into preparations for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Observers estimate that under current conditions, by 2022 over 4,000 workers will die in the effort to build Qatar’s World Cup infrastructure.
When the 2014 World Cup gets underway in Brazil next month, the U.S. men face a difficult group draw and demanding travel schedule. Their underdog hopes rest largely on the feet and head of 31-year-old captain Clint Dempsey. But long odds are nothing new to Dempsey, who grew up in a trailer park in east Texas and was motivated at a young age by a family tragedy. His career has carried him from the New England Revolution of Major League Soccer to Fulham and Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League and back to the MLS with the Seattle Sounders. Along the way the right-footed midfielder scored 377 goals in 107 appearances and also played for the U.S. in the 2006 and 2010 World Cups. E:60’s Jeremy Schaap tells the inspirational and determined story of Dempsey, who could become the first American to score in three straight World Cups.
Arguably the biggest sports star in the world is a soft-spoken 26-year-old Argentine soccer player who stands just over five and half feet tall. Since Lionel Messi’s career began in 2005 with FC Barcelona his accomplishments have elevated him among the all-time greats. Between 2009 and 2012 he won a record four consecutive Ballon d’Or awards, which goes to the top player in the world. In 2012 he set a record with 91 goals, breaking a 40-year-old mark. Messi has won six La Liga championships with Barcelona as well as three Champions League titles. Yet with all his accomplishments, one has escaped him — a World Cup title. In both the 2006 and 2010 World Cup, Messi was part of a disappointed Argentine squad that exited in the quarterfinals. Now, Messi’s reputation is on the line as the 2014 World Cup is about to start in Brazil. E:60’s Jeremy Schaap was granted a rare interview with Messi to discuss a tournament that will go a long ways toward determining his place in history
When FIFA awarded the 2022 World Cup to the oil-rich Arab emirate of Qatar, the decision provoked huge controversy. Not only do temperatures soar to 120 degrees in the summer, Qatar has few existing stadiums or infrastructure to host the world’s biggest sporting event. In its bid, the tiny nation on the Persian Gulf pledged to spend an estimated 220 billion dollars to build air-conditioned new stadiums, a rail and metro system, and other infrastructure. But it is the human costs of the first World Cup in the Middle East that is the focus of an E:60 investigation. An estimated 4,000 immigrant workers “will die before a ball is kicked off in 2022”, according to a watchdog for workers’ rights.
The richest country in the world per capita, Qatar recruits workers from some of the poorest countries in the world – Nepal, India, Pakistan, Bangledesh, Sri Lanka, and the Philippines. The 1.4 million migrant workers make up 94 percent of the work force in a country with a population of two million. E:60 traveled to Qatar to investigate the working and living conditions…and to Nepal, where coffins from Qatar arrive almost daily.
As Brazil hosts the World Cup this summer, its most familiar and popular ambassador will be Edson Arantes do Nascimento — better known as Pele — the greatest player ever. Brazil, with Pele, won the World Cup in 1958, 1962 and 1970. It’s been nearly four decades since his career, in which he scored 1283 goals in 1367 games, came to an end, yet he remains a global icon. Now 73, Pele is feted on every continent he visits. In an E:60 exclusive, Pele talks with Wayne Drehs about the hopes and concerns of his native Brazil as it tries to balance political controversy with futbol in this summer’s World Cup.