Thousands of England fans have descended on Qatar and have been able to locate £12 pints ahead of today’s opening World Cup match.
Supporters filled Doha’s hotels, sports bars, and Irish pubs before traveling to the Khalifa Stadium for the 1pm kickoff, when alcohol was forbidden at the eleventh hour by the Gulf state’s Emir.
Even though its sale is severely regulated in the Muslim country, fans are already drinking alcohol this morning. In the hours before the game, they were seen on video drinking and singing.
It is estimated that 4,000 England supporters will travel to Qatar for the World Cup, with 2,800 expected to watch Gareth Southgate’s team play in a match they are widely predicted to win.
However, the stadium is unlikely to be as crowded as it is for England games at major tournaments, given barely a third of the stadium was filled for the hosts’ opening encounter against Ecuador last night.
At the inaugural ceremony, which included Morgan Freeman and was attended by Qatari royals, VIPs including Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, David Beckham, and FIFA delegates, there were also vacant seats. The production of the spectacle, which promised that football is for everyone, reportedly cost £10 million.
Back in England, pubs began to fill with supporters at dawn, and managers were expected to allow employees to watch the game at work or at home, or face a rush of employees calling in sick or skipping work.
When England faces Iran today, it will be the most politically charged World Cup match in the tournament’s history.
The England team has stated that they would kneel prior to the match against Iran. All eyes will be on the Iranian squad to determine if any dissident players will make a scissor-like gesture to support the Iranian women amid the country’s massive protests. Families of Britons detained by the Iranian regime have also demanded that England players participate.
Sunday night’s heated discussions in Doha left the English Football Association in the dark as to whether captain Harry Kane will be booked if he wears the controversial ‘OneLove’ armband in England’s World Cup opener against Iran today.
After tens of thousands of dollars were wagered on Harry Kane becoming the first player ejected from the Iran match, many bookies have halted wagering on the outcome.
Mark Bullingham, the FA’s chief executive, told BBC Radio 4 that if FIFA’s threat of “sporting consequences” is legitimate and Kane receives a yellow card, England will have to find “another way to express our principles” besides wearing the armband. Mr. Bullingham proposed that if the penalty is a fine, they will pay it so that Kane can wear it.
Stop this intolerable moral posturing! Viewers accuse Gary Lineker and Alex Scott of hypocrisy as they deliver emotional statements against Qatar’s human rights record from a stadium studio.
Viewers of the first World Cup match accused the BBC of ‘hypocrisy’ and ‘virtue signaling’ when experts discussed scandals and human rights issues in Qatar while airing live from a stadium in Doha on the opening day of the tournament.
Gary Lineker’s opening speech for BBC’s World Cup introduction directly tackled Qatar’s human rights record. Today, the controversial competition began with the host nation meeting Ecuador in Group A, with the match being broadcast live by the BBC.
Previously, he had been criticized, along with other football pundits and journalists, for agreeing to attend and be compensated for the tournament in Qatar despite the country’s very conservative position on matters like homosexual rights.
Alan Shearer, Alex Scott, and Ashley Williams, who were serving as commentators, discussed Qatar’s conduct since being awarded the tournament.
The BBC chose to broadcast the opening ceremony, which featured disgraced actor Morgan Freeman, only online.
Fans responded angrily to today’s broadcast and stated that they only wanted to watch the games, pointing out that if the presenters were so concerned about human rights issues, they could have just refused to go there.
It is one of several controversies surrounding the tournament prior to its start, including a ban on alcohol in stadiums and Morgan Freeman’s participation in the opening ceremony.
One social media user stated, “Gary Lineker discussed the lack of human rights in Qatar on BBC News.” While he sits there and collects the money. The man’s hypocrisy knows no bounds!’
The FA has spent the last few hours in discussions with FIFA and the other eight nations that have committed to wearing the armband in an effort to gain clarity on an issue that has cast a shadow over England’s tournament opener. One source described these discussions as “less than amicable” this morning.
The governing body, which has confirmed that England’s players will kneel during the tournament, is determined for captain Kane to wear the armband as a gesture of equality at a tournament marred by criticism over Qatar’s human rights record. Homosexuality is illegal in the host country.
However, there is growing concern that Kane may receive a yellow card if he wears the armband as planned, as this would be in violation of FIFA’s regulations.
Executives from the English football association have spoken with FIFA about the potential repercussions of their decision, but they have yet to receive a definitive response.
FIFA has strict standards surrounding the attire worn by players during matches, and Kane donning the armband would violate these rules.
The FA anticipated a punishment for violating FIFA’s regulations, but they were apprehensive about the possibility of England’s most vital player, Harry Kane, being booked and thereby facing suspension.
Kane stated, “As a squad, staff, and organization, we have made it obvious that we wish to wear the armband. I am aware that the FA is in discussion with FIFA and that they will have made a decision by game time.
Gareth Southgate, the head coach, continued, ‘I am aware that there are conversations occurring. Several of the European nations have spoken. We have made our position clear, therefore we hope that all issues will be settled prior to the game.
The United Kingdom is one of nine nations wearing the ‘One Love’ armband.
Yesterday, news of a possible booking also reached the camps of Germany and Holland.
Holland captain Virgil van Dijk stated prior to his team’s match against Senegal, ‘From our perspective, nothing has changed.
If I were to receive a yellow card for wearing it, we would have to discuss it, as I dislike playing while on a yellow.
The latest dispute follows a tumultuous beginning to the competition on Sunday, when Morgan Freeman performed a spectacular opening ceremony.
The 85-year-old actor, who apologized for sexual harassment allegations four years ago, raised eyebrows when he narrated a disturbing segment titled The Calling, telling hundreds of millions of viewers around the world, “We all gather here as one big tribe.”
When the action finally began on the field two seconds early because the referee did not wait for the stadium’s countdown to end, there was bad news for the host country.
The home team lost 0-2 to Ecuador, whose fans mocked Qatar’s alcohol ban by chanting ‘queremos cerveza,’ or ‘we want beer.’ The match was witnessed by the Gulf state’s royals and David Beckham. Beckham, who has been criticized for being a paid World Cup ambassador for Qatar, sat in the VIP section.
The oil-rich nation has been criticized for its treatment of foreign labor, LGBT rights, and social restrictions, and has staked its reputation on hosting a successful tournament. It has been accused of using “fake fans” to generate positive coverage of the World Cup.
The Football Association, who have also stated that England’s players will kneel during the tournament, are desperate for captain Kane to wear the armband as a sign of equality at a tournament that has been overshadowed by criticism of Qatar’s human rights record.
However, FA officials were anxious on Sunday night that Kane could be issued a yellow card if he wears the armband as planned, because doing so would violate FIFA’s regulations.
What is the OneLove armband?
Nine countries including England and Wales had planned to sport the OneLove armband for this year’s tournament.
The armband has its roots in the Netherlands and is designed to promote diversity and inclusion with football.
In 2021, Georginio Wijnaldum wore the armband at a European Championship game in Hungary with the consent of UEFA, the governing body of European football.
It is a white armband with a heart and the words “One” and “Love” imprinted on it.
The armband was created to campaign for the rights of the LGBT+ community, as well as other marginalised groups in football, and to promote equality for all.
It is an appeal to respect everyone’s human rights regardless of age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, country, or disability, despite having a central theme connected to the LGBT+ community.
Executives in English football are seeking clarification from FIFA over the penalties that could be imposed if they proceed with their decision.
English football’s governing body had anticipated a fine for Kane’s violation of FIFA’s regulations, but they were anxious about the possibility of Kane being cautioned and, consequently, facing a suspension.
Kane stated, “As a squad, staff, and organization, we have made it obvious that we wish to wear the armband. I am aware that the FA is in discussion with FIFA and that a decision will be made prior to kickoff.’
Gareth Southgate, the head coach, continued, ‘I am aware that there are conversations occurring. Several of the European nations have spoken. We have made our position clear, therefore we hope that all issues will be settled prior to the game.
The England swore to “bring some genuine happiness” to their homeland. He promised to “deliver” for England and said the team had been practicing penalties to avoid the nation’s typical agony.
The United Kingdom is one of nine nations wearing the ‘One Love’ armband. In fact, word of a prospective reservation had reached the German and Dutch camps.
Holland captain Virgil van Dijk stated prior to his team’s match against Senegal, ‘From our perspective, nothing has changed. If I were to receive a yellow card for wearing it, we would need to discuss the matter, as I dislike playing while on a yellow card.
It is believed that the teams are exerting pressure on FIFA to permit the armbands due to Qatar’s traditional social customs. However, FIFA has already conceded to Qatari authorities on important promises such as alcohol sales in an effort to preserve the hosts’ support.
After the opening match began at 4pm UK time, the stadium – intended to mimic a typical Bedouin tent – appeared to quickly fill, with many seats occupied by the show’s performers.
Qatar’s Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, presided over the ceremony, surrounded by Fifa president Gianni Infantino, who drew scorn for labeling European nations racist and claiming he understood discrimination as a child with ginger hair and freckles.
The intention of last night’s extravagant performance, which also featured Jung Kook of the South Korean boy band BTS, was to put a stop to the issues. As it occurred, though, riot police were sent to a fan zone in the capital to quell mass disorder.
Tens of thousands of fans pushed and shoved against police lines in order to enter the Fifa Fan Festival on Doha’s Corniche, which features a large TV screen for viewing matches and a beer tent. As protesters begged authorities to let them pass, riot police armed with batons and shields stood guard. One, Hatem El-Berarri, remarked, “It’s quite unsafe; people could die.”
He stated, “Older individuals and ladies cannot handle such throngs.” Maluma, who sings on the World Cup’s official anthem, stormed out of a TV interview after being accused of ‘whitewashing’ human rights abuses in Qatar, dealing a further blow to World Cup organizers.
Freeman performed an act with Ghanim al Muftah, a 20-year-old entrepreneur and influencer who was born with caudal regression syndrome, a rare disease that hinders the development of the lower spine.
He invited the Hollywood star to come over. Freeman responded, “I’m unsure, am I invited?” al Muftah responded, “We sent out the call because everyone is welcome.” This is an invitation sent to the entire world. Freeman, whose filmography includes the Hollywood classic The Shawshank Redemption, asked the Al Bayt stadium crowd, “How can so many countries, languages, and cultures join together if only one approach is accepted?”
Last Monday, the morals sheikhs of Qatar imposed a last-minute ban on drinking at the stadiums.
Yesterday, official sponsor Budweiser released a photograph of tens of thousands of cans stockpiled in a warehouse and offered to deliver them to the World Cup champions. Morgan’s participation at the ceremony comes four years after he was accused of sexual misconduct by eight women and apologized to ‘anyone who felt uncomfortable or insulted’ by his behavior, stating that it was ‘never my aim’
It is extremely upsetting to watch Morgan Freeman take the money and support an authoritarian administration,’ one football fan commented scathingly on social media. Qatar stated last night that the mass issue occurred after the venue’s main entrance was momentarily closed because it reached capacity early.
Empty seats were plainly visible in the background of the ceremony, and although they appeared to have filled with spectators by the time the game began at 7 p.m. local time, they emptied again prior to the final whistle.
In the tournament’s opening match, which was originally slated to take place on Monday but was moved to today at the request of the hosts, Qatar was severely defeated by Ecuador.
Losing by a score of 2-0, organizers were left red-faced as thousands of spectators left the stadium while the game was still in full view of the cameras. It is the first time in the history of the World Cup that the host nation has lost its opening match.
Gary Lineker, Alex Scott, and Alan Shearer, together with fellow analysts Alex Scott and Alan Shearer, elected to discuss human rights abuses at the beginning of their program, sparking widespread outrage on the show’s opening day. The BBC was also criticized for its decision.
Lineker stated, “This is already the most controversial World Cup in recent memory, and not a single ball has been kicked.”
Since FIFA’s decision in 2010 to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, the smallest nation to host the sport’s most prestigious tournament has faced significant challenges.
From allegations of bribery in the bidding procedure to the treatment of migrant laborers who constructed the stadiums where so many people perished. Homosexuality is prohibited here, and women’s rights are also a focal point. In addition, the choice to move the competition from summer to winter.
‘Against this backdrop, a competition will be played here that will be viewed and admired worldwide. Stick to football, says FIFA, at least for the next couple of minutes.
Following weeks of criticism over the country’s human rights record, Morgan Freeman opened the World Cup opening ceremony in Qatar today in front of the country’s royals and rows of empty seats.
The 85-year-old actor, who apologized for sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior four years ago, narrated the event’s opening segment titled ‘The Calling’ today, telling viewers, ‘We all gather here as one big tribe’ as fans descended on Doha’s city center in anticipation of the upcoming start of the world’s greatest football festival.
Ghanim al Muftah, a 20-year-old Qatari entrepreneur and influencer who was born with Caudal Regression Syndrome, a rare illness that hinders the development of the lower spine, and is a FIFA World Cup Ambassador, told the actor, “Come on over.”
Freeman responded, “I’m unsure. Am I invited?” al Muftah responded, “We sent out the call because everyone is welcome.” This is an invitation sent to the entire world.
Freeman answered, “I recall that, even after hearing the call, we rejected it and insisted on our own route, rather than considering an alternative. And today the world feels more distant and divided than ever before. How can so many nations, languages, and cultures coexist if only one approach is accepted?
His visit comes four years after he was accused of sexual misconduct by eight women and apologized to ‘anyone who felt uncomfortable or insulted’ by his behavior, stating that it was ‘never my intention’
Eight witnesses and eight alleged victims have come forward to accuse the actor of engaging in “inappropriate conduct” and “harassment” when they worked alongside him.
Social media users have reacted negatively to the actor’s participation in the ceremony, with one calling it ‘disappointing’ and another stating: ‘When you have to act out a scene with Morgan Freeman ‘welcoming the entire world’ to your country for a soccer tournament, maybe you shouldn’t host the World Cup.’
The opening ceremony featured ‘Leta’Arafo (To Know One Another)’ scenes, followed by ‘Chants of Nations,’ a World Cup Medley, a display of the official mascots, and Jung Kook of South Korean boy band BTS.
The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, was accompanied by FIFA president Gianni Infantino as they entered the stadium and took their places alongside other Arab leaders.
Three camels, American actor Morgan Freeman, and a performance of a new tournament song titled Dreamers featuring vocalist Jungkook of K-pop boy band BTS and Qatari singer Fahad Al-Kubaisi then took the field.
The crown prince of Saudi Arabia, the presidents of Egypt, Turkey, and Algeria, as well as the Secretary-General of the United Nations, are among the officials gathered in a tent-shaped stadium prior to the opening match between the hosts and Ecuador.
Qatar, which has disputed allegations of worker mistreatment and discrimination, and FIFA are hopeful that the focus will now shift to the action on the field. In addition, organizers have disputed suspicions of hosting rights bribery.
As Qatar’s team appeared for their inaugural encounter, there were still many empty seats at Al Bayt Stadium due to traffic congestion on the motorway leading to the venue. However, there were loud cheers as a result of the team’s appearance.
The soccer tournament, the first to be staged in the Middle East and the most expensive in its history, is the capstone of Qatar’s soft power campaign following the end of a three-and-a-half-year boycott by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain in 2021.
The United Arab Emirates, whose reconciliation with Doha has been slower than that of Riyadh and Cairo, dispatched its vice president, who is also the ruler of Dubai, where many World Cup supporters have chosen to stay.
A direct commercial aircraft from Tel Aviv to Doha landed in Qatar for the first time on Sunday, despite the absence of formal bilateral connections, as a result of an arrangement arranged by FIFA to transport both Palestinians and Israelis to the tournament.
The Deputy Prime Minister of the Gulf state, Khalid Al-Attiyah, stated on state television that Qatar was reaping the results of years of “hard labor and solid planning.”
Saturday, FIFA’s Infantino attacked European criticism of Qatar, stating that engagement was the best way to promote human rights, while Doha referred to its labor changes.
As they prepare to play in a conservative Muslim nation where same-sex relationships are prohibited, the team captains of Denmark and Germany will don One Love armbands. The organizers welcome everyone but advise against public affection.
Supporters came at the Al Bayt stadium for this afternoon’s opening match in temperatures over 30 degrees Celsius under a blazing sun.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, vice president of the United Arab Emirates and ruler of Dubai, arrived in Qatar for the World Cup opener on Sunday, according to Qatar’s press agency.
The strong crown prince of Saudi Arabia and a delegation of ministers arrived in the neighboring country this morning to attend the inauguration ceremony, according to Saudi official media.
Mohammed bin Salman was joined by the energy, interior, foreign, trade, and investment ministries of the kingdom, as well as senior officials including his national security adviser and the director of the National Guard, according to the official Saudi Press Agency.
Women with black shayla headdresses and abayhas and men in white thobes were seen entering the stadium, which was supposed to resemble the tents used by nomads.
They were accompanied by Ecuador supporters, many of whom wore elaborate headdresses, balaclavas, and masks and held national flags.
Outside the stadium’s entrance gates, fans from both teams paused to take photos with one another, creating the impression of a cordial mood.
Many of the laborers who worked to construct the eight stadiums were unable to afford the highest World Cup ticket costs ever, despite working valiantly to meet a punishing deadline that claimed the lives of many of their colleagues.
The England football squad was rumored to have gifted tickets to a select few members of the affluent audience.
Prior to the event, the controversy that has long surrounded the decision to give the World Cup to the tiny Gulf state has reached a peak, with continuous scrutiny of its treatment of migrant workers and the LGBT+ population.
Qatari fan Hakeem Ahmad told Reuters as he approached the stadium with his wife and two children, “We are ready.”
Whatever transpires on the field, the world should view us favorably today.
“We have planned this party especially for you. If Qatar can play well, it would be to our advantage.
“We hope that after today, people will view Qatar differently, for who we truly are.” It is time to discuss Qatar constructively.
Cathal Kelly, columnist for the Globe and Mail, Canada’s national newspaper, summarized the distractions.
“Once the first ball is kicked, nobody cares if it’s being held on a sacred burial ground or powered by coal,” he wrote.
This is the hope of football’s governing body FIFA and Qatari organizers, who have urged critics to keep their attention on the sport and not drag it into ideological or political conflicts.
Wilmer Saltos, 35, a farmer who has traveled from Guayaquil on the coast of Ecuador with his brother and sister, told Reuters while waiting in the heat to enter the stadium, “This is my first World Cup.”
When we learned that Ecuador would kick off the tournament, we knew we had to be present. Clearly, there are significant cultural distinctions; you cannot refute this.
Today, though, is all about football for us; we only wish to concentrate on the game.
While Qatar is hosting one of the sport’s largest parties, it will be largely alcohol-free due to the decision of officials to turn off the beer faucets inside the stadiums, which has drawn additional criticism.
Qatar is a teetotal nation where alcohol can only be purchased or consumed in licensed hotels and restaurants.
Previously, World Cup exemptions allowed spectators to purchase beer in specific “fan zones” and stadium concourses.
However, as a result of Qatar’s breach of contract, alcohol will now only be accessible in “fan zones” and not at the stadiums.
Pints will cost £12, will only be accessible at particular times, and will be limited to four per person to prevent intoxication.
Beer or no beer, Qataris and tens of thousands of foreign fans have descended upon the FIFA Fan Festival zones in central Doha along the city’s iconic Corniche, ready to celebrate.
Ghanim Al Muftah of Qatar is featured in the World Cup opening ceremony.
As reported by James Reynolds for MailOnline
Ghanim Al Muftah, a 20-year-old YouTuber from Qatar, appeared alongside Morgan Freeman in the World Cup opening ceremony.
Al Muftah is well-known for his motivational speeches and social media presence. In 2018, at the age of 16, he spoke at TEDxQatarUniversity about his condition, caudal regression syndrome.
The lower half of the body, including the spine, limbs, bladder, bowels, and gut, can be affected by caudal regression syndrome (CRS).
The bones in the lower spine can be abnormal or absent, and spinal abnormalities frequently affect the chest, making it difficult to breathe.
This year, Mr. Al Muftah, who was born in Qatar, was selected as one of the official FIFA World Cup Ambassadors.
The Loughborough University politics student stated in a statement, “In my capacity as a FIFA World Cup ambassador, I wish to convey a message of hope, inclusivity, peace, and humanity’s unity.”
Mr. Al Muftah is well-known for his generosity, having founded the Association of Ghanim with the assistance of his family.
The organization provides wheelchairs to individuals in need.