Al Bayt stadium served as the site of the opening ceremony of World Cup Qatar, more than one hour before the host country took on Ecuador in the tournament’s first match. FIFA Ambassadors Morgan Freeman and Ghanim Al Muftah kicked off the celebrations with a heartwarming speech. With a light show as a background, flag bearers celebrated alongsid large inflated jerseys of each of the 32 teams, as well as inflatable mascots of previous World Cups.
Then the mascot of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 was rolled out: “La’eeb”. The mascot introduction was followed by a dance number performed to the official songs of the most recent World Cups, with South Korean singer Jungkook singing “Dreamers” joined by Qatari singer Fahad Al-Kubaisi.
Shiekh Tamim, the crown prince of Qatar, delivered a short speech emphasizing inclusion, and was then surprised by the tournament organisers with a replica of the jersey he used to wear as a young player.
To mark the opening of the fan festival zones all over the capital Doha, Qatar held another major seaside ceremony the day before that included a laser show, fireworks, a water fountain, and plenty of music.
Qatar 0-2 Ecuador
Asian Cup 2019 champions Qatar became the first host team to lose the opening match of a World Cup since the tradition of the hosts playing the opening match first began.
Five minutes after Italian referee Daniel Orsato marked the start of the World Cup, VAR confirmed his decision to void an Ecuadorian goal due to offside. But before long Qatari goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb fell victim to the intense pressure from Ecuador (and especially from star player Valencia), conceding a penalty and becoming the first goalkeeper to earn a yellow card in the opening match of a World Cup. Ecuador striker Valencia tucked away the spot kick, sending Al Sheeb in the wrong way to notch the first goal of the World Cup Qatar in the 16th minute.
Another 15 minutes of absolute tactical dominance by Ecuador resulted in Valencia’s second goal, a headed effort from a cross from Preciado in the 31st minute.
Qatar’s performance improved somewhat in the second half, but the hosts still failed to muster a single shot on target.