Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022 opening ceremony – in pictures

There were ‘camels, fireworks and Morgan Freeman’ before Ecuador’s 2-0 win over host nation Qatar

The 2022 Fifa World Cup in Qatar has kicked off with the opening ceremony and first group A match taking place at the Al Bayt Stadium. Fans of the host nation would have been hoping to see their team start their home World Cup with a win, but Ecuador spoiled the party with a 2-0 victory in Al Khor. Ecuador captain Enner Valencia scored twice to give his side the three points and also put himself as an early contender for the Golden Boot.

Ahead of the group A opening fixture, the fans inside the stadium were treated to a “visually striking” opening ceremony featuring “camels, fireworks and Morgan Freeman”, said BBC Sport. The ceremony started with Oscar-winning actor Freeman narrating a video about “football's ability to unite”.

World Cup opening ceremonies “don’t carry quite the cultural heft of Olympic opening ceremonies”, said Martin Belam in The Guardian. Many have interpreted Qatar hosting this World Cup as “being about sportswashing their international image” and “no expense was spared” on the 30-minute show that preceded the opening fixture.

In the 12 years since Qatar won the bid to host this year’s World Cup, the Gulf nation has faced a “barrage of criticism” over its treatment of foreign workers, LGBTQ+ rights and social restrictions, said Reuters. “Staking its reputation” on delivering a smooth tournament, Qatar and Fifa hope the “spotlight will now turn” to the action on the pitch.

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Mike Starling is the digital features editor at The Week, where he writes content and edits the Arts & Life and Sport website sections and the Food & Drink and Travel newsletters. He started his career in 2001 in Gloucestershire as a sports reporter and sub-editor and has held various roles as a writer and editor at news, travel and B2B publications. He has spoken at a number of sports business conferences and also worked as a consultant creating sports travel content for tourism boards. International experience includes spells living and working in Dubai, UAE; Brisbane, Australia; and Beirut, Lebanon.