The 2022 FIFA World Cup kicked off in Qatar on Sunday, with a grand opening ceremony that saw the performance of world celebrities. The event began with the soft voice of American actor Morgan Freeman and an Arabic theme with camels.
Flanked by FIFA President Gianni Infantino, the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, arrived at the stadium amidst an enormous crowd. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman also attended the opening ceremony and the opening match of the tournament.
The opening show also witnessed the performance of a new song for the tournament, titled “Dreamers”, in which singer Jungkook from the K-pop boy band BTS participated, along with Qatari singer Fahad Al Kubaisi. Interestingly, Qatar is also the youngest country to host the biggest global football event. Crowd control will be key with around 1.2 million visitors expected – more than a third of its population.
A ban on the sale of beer was imposed two days before the opening ceremony of the World Cup, but at the FIFA Fan Fest in central Doha, visitors were seen sipping beer. But conditions were different outside the city’s outskirts, where hundreds of workers gathered in a sports arena in an industrial area without alcohol.
Thousands of attendees were turned away from Saturday night’s concert in the official fan area due to overcrowding. According to reports, around 1.2 million visitors are expected to start arriving this week in the tiny country on the Arabian Peninsula.
Qatar – home to 3 million people, mostly migrant workers – has spent more than $200 billion on improvements across the country for the tournament. Among the additions are seven new purpose-built stadiums, including the 60,000-capacity Al Bayt Stadium which hosted Sunday’s opening ceremony and the first match.
(with input from agencies)