CAMELS, fireworks, a K-Pop megastar and a politics student with no legs… it was the best opening ceremony you never saw.
The 2022 World Cup is officially underway following Ecuador’s comfortable 2-0 win over Qatar – who became the FIRST-EVER host nation to lose their opening match in the tournament’s 92-year history.
APMorgan Freeman and Qatari YouTuber Ghanim Al Muftah spoke at the World Cup 2022 opening ceremony[/caption]
Getty Images – GettyFreemand and Al Muftah shared inspirational messages for the world at the glitzy bash ahead of the tournament curtain raiser[/caption]
The World Cup got underway with a bang in a sea of pyrotechnics and dance routinesRex
GettyK-pop star Jung Kook performed at the star-studded ceremony in Qatar[/caption]
Fireworks filled the sky around the Al Bayt Stadium for the World Cup opening ceremonyRex
GettyJung Kook performed with Qatari singer Fahad Al Kubaisi during the opening ceremony[/caption]
The atmosphere in the Al Bayt Stadium fell flat, and at half-time emptied, as the South Americans gave the World Cup rookies a sound beating.
But the day had started with such excitement as a buzz gripped the 60,000-seater stadium.
Incredible fireworks lit up the sky in vivid pink and orange as fans partied in the stands of the brand-new arena with their non-alcoholic Budweiser.
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Actor Morgan Freeman made a surprise appearance to tell fans across the globe “everyone is welcome” despite the first World Cup to be held in the Middle East being overshadowed by a number of controversies.
The Hollywood A-lister infamously bungled his speech during the USA’s bid for this very World Cup.
But he starred on stage alongside Qatari YouTuber Ghanim Al Muftah.
The 20-year-old Loughborough University politics student suffers from caudal regression syndrome (CRS) – which affects the development of the lower half of the body.
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Al Muftah – who boasts 3.3million Instagram followers – shared a “message of hope, inclusivity, peace, and unity for humanity” at the ceremony.
The YouTube star has aspirations of becoming a Paralympian and lists football as one of his favourite sports, having played alongside his school-mates by wearing shoes on his hands.
Elsewhere, K-pop sensation Jung Kook belted out the tournament song, Dreamers, alongside Qatari singer Fahad Al Kubaisi during the colourful bash.
Where there’s song, there’s dance… and the opening ceremony in Qatar was full of memorable routines.
One particularly eye-catching number saw giant walking kits of the 32 World Cup teams.
Another saw the mascots of previous tournaments – including the original World Cup Willie – alongside La’eeb, the 2022 mascot.
According to the official description, La’eeb, meaning “super-skilled player”, is an “adventurous, fun, curious” sprite based on a ghutra headdress who “comes from the mascot-verse, a parallel world where all mascots live”.
The 30-minute ceremony ended with an impressive pyrotechnics display, before the crowd roared in anticipation of Qatar vs Ecuador.
Unfortunately for the hosts, ex-West Ham star Enner Valencia scored three times in the opening 31 minutes – with one ruled out for offside – to secure all three points in the Group A fixture.
Fans were quick to slate Qatar goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb for his nightmare first-half, despite salvaging some pride in the second 45.
The crowd emptied at half-time – despite the announcer claiming a 67,000 capacity in a 60,000-seater stadium – as giddy Ecuador fans partied… and even poked fun at the tournament’s beer ban.