2022 World Cup opening ceremony highlights

The 2022 World Cup got underway on Sunday with Qatar taking on Ecuador in Qatar.

There were some big set pieces in the opening ceremony, with Hollywood talent and global pop icons were brought out to treat viewers to some sugary entertainment.

Here’s how Qatar brought in the first ever winter World Cup.

Morgan Freeman

“Wait a minute, this isn’t Zihuantanejo?!” / Marc Atkins/GettyImages

“I must admit I didn’t think much of football first time I laid eyes on a game; looked like a stiff breeze would blow the players over. That was my first impression of the game.”

If only, right? Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman showed up to talk viewers through the ethos of the 2022 World Cup, championing values like inclusivity and talking about the “emotions that connect us all now”.

A group of the Ardah dancers were seen with swords before the cameras turned to a topless man playing the drums.


La’eeb is absolutely massive / Richard Sellers/GettyImages

We were then treated to a trip down memory lane as giant mascots from previous World Cups were wheeled out before the headline act made its appearance.

La’eeb is the 2022 World Cup mascot. La’eeb is an Arabic word meaning ‘super-skilled player’ and comes from an indescribable parallel mascot-verse. If you’ve seen Inception or Tenet, you can probably figure out what that means.

South Korean boy band BTS are massive. Like, kinda Beatles massive. World Cup organisers couldn’t book all seven members, but they did get one; Jungkook.

The global superstar performed the song ‘Dreamers’ to mark the start of the World Cup and was then joined by Qatari singer Fahad Al-Kubaisi. The performance was filled with the big dance numbers we’ve all become accustomed to seeing in K-Pop, but it wasn’t long before we returned to Red for some more monologuing.

Mr Freeman spoke more on how this World Cup is uniting people – for context, this World Cup has widely been seen as one of the most divisive due to the host nation’s human rights record and treatment of LGBTQ+ people – before we cut to a Qatari official signing a shirt.

After a few more sightings of the mascots and some fireworks, the ceremony came to an end and then focus switched to the match at Al Bayt Stadium.

Qatar have never played in the World Cup and also had another record to protect – a host nation had never lost the opening game of a tournament. They were tasked with facing Ecuador, an exciting young outfit with talents like Moises Caicedo and Piero Hincapie as well as established forwards such as Enner Valencia.

With warm-ups done and players ready, the off-field talk stopped – for the moment, anyway – for the opening game of the 2022 World Cup.

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