November 21: The 2022 World Cup kicked off in Qatar’s Al-Bayt Stadium on Sunday with a visually appealing opening ceremony.
According to the BBC, America’s Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman featured in the festivities alongside Qatari YouTuber Ghanim Al-Muftah. South Korean pop star Jung Kook sang Dreamers, the tournament song, alongside Qatari singer Fahad Al Kubaisi at the stadium in Al Khor.
The build-up to the first World Cup to be held in a Muslim country in the Middle East has been overshadowed by a number of controversies, including deaths of migrant workers and treatment of LGBT people in Qatar, BBC added.
According to Reuters, Qatar's ruler in his inauguration speech called for people of all races and orientations to put aside their differences, as the host nation faced a barrage of criticism over its treatment of foreign workers and LGBT rights.
The Muslim Gulf nation is staking its reputation on delivering a smooth tournament and has denied accusations of abuse of workers and discrimination, the news agency added. Football governing body FIFA hopes the spotlight will now turn to action on the pitch.
Organisers have also denied allegations of bribery to win the rights to host football’s biggest event.
"People of all races, nationalities, beliefs and orientations will gather here in Qatar and around screens across the continents to share in the exciting moments," Reuters quoted Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani as saying.
In the inaugural match, which took place minutes after the opening ceremony, the hosts Qatar were beaten 2-0 by Equador.