At the Al Bayt Stadium, Oscar-winning actor Freeman kicked-off proceedings with a monologue about football’s power to unite the world.
The speech was naturally very controversial given Qatar’s appalling human rights record, treatment of migrant workers and lack of free speech.
After a stunning display traditional Qatari music and dancing, flags of all 32 nations competing were shown off, as were the mascots from prior tournaments before the introduction of the 2022 edition, La’eeb.
Soon after, BTS singer Jung Kook arrived on the pitch to perform before Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Emir of Qatar made a speech in Arabic, before finishing in English.
‘Welcome and good luck to all,’ he said.
The ceremony then paused to allow the teams to warm-up before one final lights and pyrotechnics display just before kick-off, with a giant model of the World Cup trophy in the middle of the pitch.
Finally, widely criticised FIFA President Gianni Infantino then gave a brief speech, saying: Dear friends, welcome to the Fifa World Cup, Qatar 2022.
‘Welcome to celebrate football, because football unites the world. And now, let’s welcome the teams and let the show begin. All the best to everyone.’
Once the ceremony concluded, the football itself could begin with hosts Qatar taking on Ecuador.
The game was originally scheduled for Monday but was switched to Sunday to allow the host nation to kick-off the tournament in keeping with the tradition that began back in 2006.
England kick-off their campaign at 1pm Monday against Iran while Wales begin with a clash with the USA at 7pm on the same day.
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