WCup Qatar Ecuador Soccer
A giant inflateble copy of the trophy is displayed prior to the start of the World Cup group A soccer match between Qatar and Ecuador at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, Qatar, on Sunday. Photo: AP/Darko Bandic
fifa world cup 2022

Qatar opens World Cup with a message of inclusion

72 Comments
By JENNA FRYER

Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman extended one yellow-gloved hand to a FIFA World Cup ambassador suffering from a rare spinal disorder in an image meant to represent inclusion in a country facing international criticism over its human rights record.

It wasn't the biggest moment of Sunday's seven-act World Cup opening ceremony ahead of the match between host country Qatar and Ecuador. The largest cheers were reserved for the Mideast and African leaders watching from their luxury suites in Bedouin-tent inspired Al Bayt Stadium.

In fact, it was Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani who drew a thunderous applause in a short speech delivered in Arabic from the suite.

“We have worked hard, along with many people, to make it one of the most successful tournaments,” he said. “We have exerted all efforts and invested for the good of all humanity.”

He was seated between FIFA president Gianni Infantino and his father, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, who secured the World Cup for the tiny gulf nation 12 years ago.

“How beautiful it is for people to put aside what divides them in order to celebrate their diversity and what brings them together at the same time,” Sheikh Tamim said, his words translated into English on a video screen inside the stadium.

“I wish all the participating teams a magnificent football performance, high sportsmanship, and a time full of joy, excitement and delight for you all,” he continued. “And let there be days that are inspiring with goodness and hope."

He then said, “I welcome you and good luck to all,” in his only words spoken in English.

Sheikh Hamad, viewed as the modernizer of Qatar during his 18 years as ruler, further delighted the crowd by autographing an official World Cup shirt handed to him by his son. He then held the shirt up to the crowd.

Qatar, home to 3 million people, most of them migrant workers, has spent more than $200 billion on preparation for the World Cup. Seven new stadiums were built, including the 60,000-seat Al Bayt Stadium north of Doha.

The controversy-laced tournament opened with the 2019 Asian Cup champions getting outplayed in a 2-0 loss to Ecuador, ensuring a host team lost its opening game for the first time at a World Cup.

The opening ceremony was meant to introduce Qatar to the world through its culture with a theme of “bridging distances.” Creative director Ahmad Al Baker wanted the ceremony to signify “a gathering for all mankind, an invitation to come together as one, bridging all differences with humanity, respect and inclusion.”

“Finally, we have reached the opening day, the day you have been eagerly waiting for,” Sheikh Tamim said. "We will follow, and with us the whole world, God willing, the great football festival, in this spacious ambience for human and civilized communication.

“People of different races, nationalities, faiths and orientations will gather here in Qatar, and around screens on all continents to share the same exciting moments.”

His words hit the mark as Sheikh Tamim was joined in the stadium suite by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, two leaders who had boycotted Qatar for years. Not present were the leaders of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, the two other nations involved in the boycott.

There were no major Western leaders in attendance, as Qatar is under intense scrutiny for its treatment of the migrant workers who prepped the nation for the World Cup, as well as the LGBTQ community. Gay and lesbian sex is criminalized in Qatar.

But among those who did attend the opening match were U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, Senegalese President Macky Sall, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Rwandan President Paul Kagame.

Kuwait’s crown prince came, along with the director-general of the World Health Organization and Djibouti’s president. Also present was Jordan’s King Abdullah II.

They listened as BTS' Jung Kook, while Qatari singer and producer Fahad Al Kubaisi debuted the single “Dreamers,” produced specifically for the World Cup.

Then came remarks from Infantino, who spoke in Arabic, Spanish and finally English to officially open the tournament.

“Dear friends, welcome, welcome, to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022,” Infantino said in English. “Welcome to celebrate football because football unites the world. And now let’s welcome the teams and let the show begin.”

As “The Business” by Tiesto blasted over the speakers, Qatar and Ecuador took to the field and the World Cup officially began.

© Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.


72 Comments
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Inclusion?

Where is the inclusion for beer drinkers, women and gays in this magical paradise of Qatar?

29 ( +36 / -7 )

Morgan Freeman? Say it ain't so. Why?

22 ( +25 / -3 )

Dripping with hypocrisy and virtue signaling. Banning booze is understandable given their cultures but they’ve had 12years to decide things and banning it 2 days before the start is not an utter farce. I envisage more and more problems as the tournament goes on. And as for the FIFA head’s speech about ‘understanding the plight of gays and deaths of immigrant workers’ because he had ginger hair a long long time ago…..

12 ( +17 / -5 )

When women are under the control of the men in their family unallowed to do simple basic things on their own you can hardly call it inclusive.

Where you can get arrested for holding someone's hand in public or even giving a hug in public even if it's your wife.

That is not inclusive.

21 ( +25 / -4 )

Well the crowd obviously didn't want to be included since they left in droves in the second half. Thousands of empty seats as Qatar just couldn't compete, becoming the first host to lose an opener in 92 years.

Meanwhile japanese media were pumping it up this morning.

13 ( +16 / -3 )

Another demonstration that FIFA is not only corrupt, it's out of touch as well. But this is sport, and I hope the players of the world can shine above the corrupt FIFA organisation to take the sport to new heights.

12 ( +15 / -3 )

Qatar is about as inclusive as a sealed and stapled shut ziplock bag

22 ( +23 / -1 )

The pictures of the male-only crowd during the Qatar-Ecuador match sent a much more vivid message: This is the Muslim world, and it’s not going to bend mores for a global sports competition.

I wonder how much money Morgan Freeman took in exchange for utterly beclowning himself?

21 ( +22 / -1 )

As much as it galls me where it's taking place, I shall reluctantly have to put it all aside for 4 weeks and enjoy the Football..its once every four years and the first major post Pandemic sporting event without restrictions. Looking forward to the real games starting tonight.

-3 ( +6 / -9 )

Yawn, wake me up when this is over.

-8 ( +7 / -15 )

England have been told by FIFA that 'OneLove' armbands will not be permitted during the World Cup as Harry Kane faces possible punishment if he chooses to wear the armband as a gesture of solidarity during the World Cup opener against Iran on Monday.

Many other players have stated they too will wear the armband.

11 ( +14 / -3 )

I for one, won’t bother watching a farcical spectacle-I’ll be out enjoying the town!

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

et too, Morgan?

11 ( +12 / -1 )

I don't care less about their controversy or whatever. I am only interested in watching the games. People need to get over it and instead focus on the sport itself.

-12 ( +3 / -15 )

Yawn, wake me up when this is over.

I’m assuming then that this will be your last comment on the World Cup

5 ( +10 / -5 )

Your country, your customs, your games, but don't mock our intelligence. BTW Hiro, ever hear of the 1936 Berlin Olympics? Inclusion? The irony was drowned out by your cheers.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

Then I don't expect to see any more comments from you on the World Cup then @Zoroto.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

Morgan Freeman? Say it ain't so. Why?

Because people confuse actors with the characters they play. Look into him and you will find he fits perfectly well into Hollywood.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

England have been told by FIFA that 'OneLove' armbands will not be permitted during the World Cup as Harry Kane faces possible punishment if he chooses to wear the armband as a gesture of solidarity during the World Cup opener against Iran on Monday

If they punish him, he should just ask for justification why the FIFA-backed anti-homophobia campaign has been suspended for a month.

9 ( +12 / -3 )

Morgan Freeman was joined on stage by 20-year-old entrepreneur and influencer Ghanim al Muftah, who was born with caudal regression syndrome, a rare disorder that impairs the development of the lower spine.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Morgan Freeman? Say it ain't so. Why?

Money, probably a lot of it.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Inclusion of money! The only real inclusion!

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Inclusion? Yeah, right. It’s been 12 years. If people were so concerned about Qatar’s stance on LGBT and foreign laborers rights back then, they never should have awarded them the World Cup in the first place. No surprise. I am surprised about the alcohol ban though. Since giving up alcohol a few years ago, I never realized how boring soccer is to watch sober.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

commanteer

"Morgan Freeman? Say it ain't so. Why?"

Because people confuse actors with the characters they play. Look into him and you will find he fits perfectly well into Hollywood.

Which is precisely why people are surprised to see him there, as Hollywood is overwhelmingly liberal, and thus pro LGBTQ+ and women's rights.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

@kurisupisu: Think you'll find 'out enjoying the town' will make it tough to avoid the World Cup if, as it has since 1998 when Japan first qualified.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

That's right, commanteer. I have been thinking Freeman was actually the retired outlaw, Ned Logan, for all these years. Now it all makes sense to me. But still not why Hollywood star and Qatar World Cup fit so seamlessly together. Can you be more explicit?

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Which is precisely why people are surprised to see him there, as Hollywood is overwhelmingly liberal, and thus pro LGBTQ+ and women's rights.

Not that. I won't go into his numerous scandals involving various young women. The fact remains entertainers will generally go anywhere when they are paid enough to make it worthwhile for them. It's what they do for a living. He has his schtick as the wise elder and it pays his bills.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

so all good now,everyone happy.

beers ate half price,plenty of cockails and wine during happy hours,pork schnitzels in german restaurants for their fans,LGBT flags and pride marches and human right issues at all.did Pussy Riot have arrived too?

all-ideal.

am I right?

-10 ( +0 / -10 )

I don't care less about their controversy or whatever. I am only interested in watching the games. People need to get over it and instead focus on the sport itself.

Yep, ALL countries that have hosted World Cup or Olympics have had their fair share of human rights abuses, controversies or bribes. People who focus on these things instead of the sport probably never cared about the sport to begin with. Where I come from, these people care about things like tweets, team names, who has/hasn't taken a vaccine and who is/isn't standing for the National Anthem. They don't spend a dime on any of the sports.

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

Well said @DudeDeuce : Let's just enjoy the Football! A lot of late nights / early mornings ahead for those of us who actually just want to concentrate on the games.

The last World Cup came after Putin had annexed Crimea and the country was also (rightly so) criticized for its anti gay stance.

Once the sport began most concentrated on that. I hope this is the same.

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

@Eastman : No idea what your comment even means. Utter drivel.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

Replays can be found on the internet.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Pathetic farce..

Inclusion?

Where is the inclusion for beer drinkers, women and gays in this magical paradise of Qatar?

Direct hit !!.. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!..

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Inclusion?

This implies unity, cooperation, one world. Yeah, destroy the nations of the world to reset everything for a one world government. Digital currency, block chain technology, ESG score, etc. The coming one world govt will be tyrannical, oppressive, confiscatory, fascist, Marxist, and totalitarian. Good luck to the people who will be included in this inclusion.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

Question * How much did morgan freeman ( lower case ) sell his posterior for ?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

@Temyong. Off Topic poppycock.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

A message of inclusion... in an Islamic state :D

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Let's just enjoy the Football! A lot of late nights / early mornings ahead for those of us who actually just want to concentrate on the games.

Yep, all of my U.S. games and one Japan game will be at 4am here. I am sleeping at the same time as the kids the night before those games.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Indeed. I've lucked out with ONE early-ish England game tonight. At least the Eng/USA game is on Saturday morning. Good luck!

1 ( +3 / -2 )

japancat

Question How much did morgan freeman ( lower case ) sell his posterior for ?*

Less than the £10 million paid to David Beckham. You can take the boy out of Essex, but can't take Essex out of the boy.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Watch replays. Better than 4 am viewing.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@Dylan..to borrow the phrase from a big TV network 'It's Only Live Once'.

Totally disagree with you.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

theResident

@Dylan..to borrow the phrase from a big TV network 'It's Only Live Once'. 

Totally disagree with you.

I have already watched my club games so far this season. Many at 4 am. Always a struggle to wake up on time. Good if you can watch live but most working people cannot.

So in those cases, replays can be watched.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Likewise - Then you'll know its not that much of a struggle to get up a couple of hours early a few times a year.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

theResident

Yes, but the night club games are only once a week. The WC is all.

My support goes to Japan, England, Wales, Holland, and the USA.

I work for myself too.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

this world cup is .......t //u know what I mean/

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

@Eastman. Then don't comment and don't watch. Plenty of other stuff to do in Tokyo.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar - humanity celebrates the gift of life. May footballers of all the participating teams give joy to football fans across the Planet.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

was the bloke with Morgan Freeman at the opening ceremony a football player?

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Japanese neutered TV media typically celebratory and ignore all controversy. BBC didn’t even broadcast the opening ceremony and TV anchors all broached the key issues, in addition to the football. Well done BBC

https://www.theguardian.com/football/2022/nov/20/bbc-ignores-world-cup-opening-ceremony-in-favour-of-qatar-criticism?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

The pictures of the male-only crowd during the Qatar-Ecuador match sent a much more vivid message:

I saw women in the crowd - probably more than I would see at a football game in Scotland.

Perhaps we should look on the bright side and hope the event will cause some changes to Qatar's culture. After all, homosexuality was only legalised in England one year after the 1966 World Cup (for over 21s anyway).

1 ( +3 / -2 )

After all, homosexuality was only legalised in England one year after the 1966 World Cup (for over 21s anyway).

1981 in Scotland I believe, which is no time at all in the grand scheme of things. Hopefully this World Cup will be a catalyst for further modernization in Qatar, just as many are hoping the 2028 World Cup in the USA will lead to American women regaining control over their own bodies and end the murders of LGBTQ people.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

1981 in Scotland I believe,

True, which is a little strange as I remember gay bars cropping up in Edinburgh in the 1970s. But look at us now. We even have an LGBTI Police Association.

https://www.lgbtipolice.scot/

Let's hope Qatar follow the same path, and you never know, one day we both might have good football teams.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

John Oliver has a fantastic piece on this on "Last Week Tonight" that deals with the human rights issues, migrant abuse and the utter corruption of this freak show.

I would highly recommend a look.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8lK_9PlYK7c

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Message of Ilusion?!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@Nemo: Lets just concentrate on the football, eh?

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Indeed. I've lucked out with ONE early-ish England game tonight. At least the Eng/USA game is on Saturday morning. Good luck!

Same to you! I think Eng and USA should get out of the group no problem. I am a little worried about Wales being a pain in the rear.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

True, which is a little strange as I remember gay bars cropping up in Edinburgh in the 1970s. But look at us now. We even have an LGBTI Police Association.

https://www.lgbtipolice.scot/

Let's hope Qatar follow the same path, and you never know, one day we both might have good football teams.

That's classy with the lgtbi police, good for Scotland. Best of luck with the football team too.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@theResident,

I think not.

There have been many examples of sport washing on the international level, but this one is especially egregious. Upwards of 6,700 migrant workers have died making these stadiums and other infrastructure.

The ones that didn’t die got to pay for the privilege of living in utter squalor (watch the piece and you’ll understand), being held in what amounts to modern day indentured servitude or out right slavery and not being paid the agreed wages at the end of it all.

Once the tournament is over the pressure is off Qatar, FIFA and the sponsors to make sure this is the last time something like this happens.

So no. I’m not going to “just concentrate on the football.”

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Inclusion? What a joke. There is very little enthusiasm for this tournament in the UK. Wrong location, wrong time of year, wrong morality; all the result of FIFA corruption and bribes. The opening match had farcical moments, so desperate for Qatar not to be humiliated even the VAR was paid off.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Less than the £10 million paid to David Beckham. You can take the boy out of Essex, but can't take Essex out of the boy.

What has Essex to do with it? He’s from London.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

All about inclusion.

Gives an instant yellow card for anyone wearing a One Love armband.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Budweiser said that they'll give the Winning Nation all the beer that had been intended for sale during the Qatar World cup....

Come on Japan.... win win...

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

There's various videos floating around showing various Nations' Fans in Qatar.... such as:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i1o9NCKq2pE

Interestingly, the people in these videos appear to be the same, and all Indian. I've read that Qatar paid their imported Stadium workers, to act as Supports in order to makes these videos...

There are others which do show real fans, though some of the scenes are clearly rigged:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JLRDQK8kZ14

And it has been reported that there's been a lot of empty seats too...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

LudditeNov. 21  07:24 pm JST

Less than the £10 million paid to David Beckham. You can take the boy out of Essex, but can't take Essex out of the boy.

What has Essex to do with it? He’s from London.

Born in Leytonstone, raised in Chingford.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

People saying "Focus on the sport not the politics"....well unfortunately in our modern world sport and politics are inseparable. Sportwashing is a political strategy, and it's becoming more common, especially in Middle-eastern countries.

Also, if all of these people/organisations and countries profess to care about the environment so much then we should stop having these new host countries every four years for all global events. Olympics, always in Greece. Winter Olympics, always in Canada. Football world cup in Europe. Rugby/Cricket World cups in the UK. It does not make any sense to keep building these new stadia.

What next? World Cup 2042 hosted by North Korea jointly with Syria and Myanmar......

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I would have liked to see Russia play...

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Born in Leytonstone, raised in Chingford.

Leytonstone is in east London.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@theresident: What makes you feel like you are the only one who has right to make comment?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@GIGI - and your comment is what?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Raw Beer: Why? What would they bring to the competition that the other 32 teams can't? Pariah State - has no place if the sporting world. Much like South Africa for so many years. It will be decades before we see a Russian National Team involved in any major sporting event again.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The controversy-laced tournament opened with the 2019 Asian Cup champions getting outplayed in a 2-0 loss to Ecuador, ensuring a host team lost its opening game for the first time at a World Cup.

Was there controversy in Japan over the way they treat foreigners in immigration centers, during the Olympics?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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