World Cup 2022 opening ceremony LIVE: Qatar ready to raise curtain on football’s greatest show

‘Today I feel gay, I feel disabled’: Fifa president Gianni Infantino at World Cup

This is it. The 2022 Fifa World Cup is starting today with an opening ceremony before controversial hosts Qatar take on Ecuador in the tournament’s opening fixture at 4pm. Fifa has been grilled with questions over their decision to award the World Cup to Qatar, especially in light of years of controversy in the country.

The exploitation of migrant workers has been compared to “modern slavery” and LGBTQ+ groups have said they do not feel safe visiting Qatar, while just a few days ago organisers rescinded an agreed policy to sell alcohol around the stadiums, throwing Fifa’s control of the tournament into question. Fifa president Gianni Infantino gave a tone-deaf speech on the eve of the tournament’s start alienating some of the minority groups harmed by the host nation, and taking shots at the Western media for their coverage of Qatar’s issues.

Now the opening ceremony inside Al Bayt Stadium will kick off the first World Cup in the Middle East and Arab world. The show will last for 30 minutes and feature a performance from Dreamers, celebrated South Korean pop star Jung Kook of BTS and Qatari singer Fahad Al-Kubaisi.

Follow all the action from the Opening Ceremony before today’s opening fixture between Qatar and Ecuador:

World Cup opening ceremony

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World Cup 2022: Female referees to officiate men’s tournament for first time

Female referees will make history at the World Cup 2022 in Qatar as the first women to officiate the men’s tournament.

Salima Mukansanga, from Rwanda, Yamashita Yoshimi, from Japan, and Stephanie Frappart, from France – along with three female assistant referees – have been chosen among 36 referees.

“I would hope that in the future, the selection of elite women’s match officials for important men’s competitions will be perceived as something normal and no longer as sensational.” Fifa’s referees committee chairman Pierluigi Collina said.

World Cup 2022: Female referees to officiate men’s tournament for first time

Michael Jones20 November 2022 11:43


Who will be performing at the opening ceremony?

FIFA are yet to announce a full list of performers for the 2022 World Cup opening ceremony but South Korea’s BTS said Jungkook, one of seven members of the boy band, will perform at the ceremony.

Other names reported to be involved in the opening ceremony include Colombian pop star Shakira, who sang the 2010 World Cup’s official song, the Black Eyed Peas, Robbie Williams and Nora Fatehi, according to The Telegraph.

British singer Dua Lipa denied a report that she was set to perform at the ceremony, while singer Rod Stewart told The Times he had turned down an offer of “over $1 million” to perform in Qatar.

Michael Jones20 November 2022 11:37


Where will the opening ceremony take place?

The opening ceremony will be held at the 60,000-capacity Al Bayt Stadium located 40km north of Doha.

Named and designed after the tents used by nomads in the Gulf, the Al Bayt Stadium is the farthest venue from central Doha but also one of the biggest and has a retractable roof.

Michael Jones20 November 2022 11:32


When will the opening ceremony take place?

The opening ceremony of the World Cup will take place on Sunday November 20th, ahead of the opening Group A match between hosts Qatar and Ecuador.

The opening ceremony is scheduled to begin at 2pm GMT.

The original plan was for the opening ceremony to be held before Qatar’s first game on November 21st, which would have created the unusual situation of two games being held before it. However, the opening match was then brought forward by a day.

Ecuador president Guillermo Lasso said he will not attend his nation’s high-profile opening match against Qatar, citing domestic unrest.

Michael Jones20 November 2022 11:27


Qatar World Cup can be force for good, insists national team manager Felix Sanchez

Qatar coach Felix Sanchez believes the World Cup can be a force for good as he described the deaths of migrant workers as a “tragedy” on the eve of his side’s opening game.

Qatar has come under intense scrutiny over the organisation of the tournament, in particular the conditions endured by migrant workers who have built the infrastructure needed to stage it.

In February 2021, the Guardian reported that 6,500 labourers had died in Qatar since it was awarded the World Cup. Authorities dispute the figure and say accident records show there were 37 deaths among workers between 2014 and 2020, three of which were “work-related”.

Michael Jones20 November 2022 11:22


‘Not the World Cup for all that Fifa promised’: GayGooners make Qatar protest

Arsenal’s GayGooners supporters group have called on FIFA to make the 2022 World Cup the last to take place in a country that persecutes members of the LGBTQ+ community.

The group held a protest outside the Qatar embassy in London on Saturday at the same time as FIFA president Gianni Infantino was hosting a media conference defending the decision to take the finals to the Middle East.

Qatar’s treatment of migrant workers and the LGBTQ+ community has been heavily criticised, with the issues raised only coming more to the fore as tournament kick-off approaches.

Michael Jones20 November 2022 11:16


What time is Qatar vs Ecuador today and what channel is it on?

Qatar will kick-off the 2022 World Cup against Group A rivals Ecuador on Sunday.

It may only be the first game of the tournament but it could be crucial, given the challenge ahead for these two sides. Netherlands and African champions Senegal await, and that means defeat in this first match could well be terminal for Qatar or Ecuador.

The build-up to the tournament has been dominated by Qatar’s abuse of the migrant workers who built the stadiums and infrastructure over the past decade so that the World Cup could go ahead, on top of concerns around the safety of LGBTQ+ football fans in a conservative Islamic nation where male homosexuality is still illegal.

Both Fifa and Qatari organisers will be hoping the football can now fill the spotlight, but there is unlikely to be any let up from global scrutiny.

Here is everything you need to know as the World Cup gets under way:

Michael Jones20 November 2022 11:12


Protests against human rights abuses in Iran and Qatar held in London before World Cup

Protests have broken out in London over the controversial World Cup hosts Qatar and their shocking record of human rights abuses.

The protests also cover Iran’s involvement in the tournament following a popular uprising against the Iranian republic and the rumours of mass executions.

Protests against human rights abuses in Iran and Qatar held in London before World Cup

Michael Jones20 November 2022 11:07


Qatar aim to avoid embarrassment after 12 long years preparing for World Cup

When they kick off against Ecuador on Sunday, it is with an altogether better pedigree. Qatar have won their last five games, albeit against teams who have not qualified for the World Cup. For the first time, they won the Asian Cup in 2019. They were Gold Cup semi-finalists in 2021. As the Qatari league paused in September, they have had longer to prepare than anyone else. Some of it has been spent at a training camp in Marbella. Some of their summer involved playing friendlies against European club sides.

“Qatar go into this tournament with an organised and well-drilled squad who are familiar with the stadiums, heat and landscape of the country,” noted Neil McGuinness, who previously worked for the Qatar FA and Aspire Academy on the identification and selection of players ahead of the World Cup.

Michael Jones20 November 2022 11:02


The human cost of Qatar 2022

The Doha Metro is one of the engineering jewels of Qatar, a $36bn (£32bn) ultra-modern transport system, speeding people around the Gulf state’s glass-towered futurescape capital and beyond. Usually it can be used to move between restaurants in the formerly run-down Msheireb district, or five-star hotels in Doha’s well-heeled West Bay.

But for the next few weeks, tens of thousands of football fans will use it to get to each of the eight stadiums of the Qatar World Cup, from Al Janoub in the south to Al Bayt in the north.

It spans 76km (47 miles), has 37 stations, and is perhaps the single greatest symbol of how Qatar’s staggering wealth and ambition has helped to utterly transform the country in the past few years.

The incredible transformation of Qatar has been in readiness for the World Cup. No country has ever been so physically changed just to hold a football tournament.

The human cost of Qatar’s World Cup

The bill stands at $200bn ⁠–⁠ but the true price of hosting football’s greatest prize has been paid by the migrant workers who have suffered abuse and even death to bring the tournament to the Middle East. Grieving families tell David Harding their stories

Michael Jones20 November 2022 10:57

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