Qatar World Cup officially underway after visually dazzling opening ceremony


    Qatar v Ecuador: Group A - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022
    Fireworks explode during the opening ceremony (Photo: Getty)

    The 2022 World Cup in Qatar has officially begun after a visually dazzling opening ceremony featuring the likes of Morgan Freeman and Jung Kook.

    At the Al Bayt Stadium, Oscar-winning actor Freeman kicked-off proceedings with a monologue about football’s power to unite the world.

    Editorial Use Only Mandatory Credit: Photo by Kieran McManus/Shutterstock (13625667w) Ghanim al Muftah and Morgan Freeman at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Opening Ceremony Qatar v Ecuador, FIFA World Cup 2022, Group A, Football, Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor, Qatar - 20 Nov 2022
    Ghanim al Muftah and Morgan Freeman at the Opening Ceremony (Photo: Shutterstock)

    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.

    Qatar v Ecuador: Group A - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022
    A giant model of the World Cup mascot Laeeb (Photo: Getty)

    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.

    AL KHOR, QATAR - NOVEMBER 20: Jungkook of the South Korean Boy Band BTS performs during the opening ceremony prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group A match between Qatar and Ecuador at Al Bayt Stadium on November 20, 2022 in Al Khor, Qatar. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)
    Jungkook of the South Korean Boy Band BTS (Photo: Getty)

    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.

    Qatar v Ecuador: Group A - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022
    FIFA President Gianni Infantino (Photo: Getty)

    ‘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.

    Qatar v Ecuador: Group A - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022
    The fireworks didn’t stop at the Al Bayt Stadium (Photo: Getty)

    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.

    MORE : Freak gym injury nearly cost Kalvin Phillips his place at the World Cup

    MORE : Gary Lineker and Alex Scott all smiles in group selfie after arriving at Qatar stadium ahead of World Cup kick-off

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