Al Khor, Qatar
For the previous yr, an enormous clock in Doha has been counting all the way down to the opening sport of the World Cup. Qatar and the world do not need to attend any longer, after this controversial match started on Sunday with the defeat of the host by 2-0 towards Ecuador.
After a spectacular opening ceremony, which featured Hollywood actor Morgan Freeman and BTS star Jung Kook, the game itself lastly took middle stage after being overshadowed by off-pitch issues within the build-up.
It was not the consequence that many in Qatar would have anticipated. The host regarded nervous and struggled towards an opponent with expertise and high quality. In fact, the sport ended at half-time, with Ecuador comfortably forward by 2-0 thanks to 2 objectives from Enner Valencia.
All of the pre-match pleasure slowly light from the stadium within the second half and there have been noticeably extra empty seats as some followers appeared to have had sufficient.
The nearer we obtained to Sunday’s kick-off in Doha, the extra excited the followers on this metropolis had been. An impressive fireworks show lit up the sky on Saturday evening and social media erupted with Qataris expressing their enthusiasm for internet hosting one in every of sport’s largest occasions.
Over the previous few days, followers from all around the world have gathered within the squares of downtown Doha to sing, chant and wave their nationwide flags, making a incredible environment.
That festive spirit continued on match day, from the town middle to the newly constructed Al Bayt Stadium, which hosted the opening match of this historic World Cup, the primary to be held within the Center East.
At instances, it felt like another main worldwide match, however the build-up to this occasion, after all, was in contrast to another.
Corruption scandals have rocked FIFA, world soccer’s governing physique, after it awarded Qatar the match in 2010, though Qatari officers have beforehand “vehemently denied” to CNN allegations of bribery surrounding its bid.
For greater than a decade, and more and more as the beginning of the match drew nearer, the build-up to the match has centered on the nation’s human rights report, from the deaths of migrant employees and the situations many suffered in Qatar, in addition to its LGBTQ legal guidelines and the position of girls in its society. The last-minute ban on alcohol in World Cup stadiums additionally made headlines all over the world.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino’s outstanding press convention on the eve of the opening match confirmed how little there was to this point on the pitch.
The FIFA chief addressed a whole bunch of journalists in Doha on Saturday and commenced the press convention with a virtually hour-long speech, throughout which he accused Western critics of hypocrisy and racism.
These concerned within the match confronted lots of criticism. Colombian singer Maluma, who seems within the official World Cup anthem, walked out of an interview on Israeli tv when he was questioned in regards to the Gulf state’s human rights report.
The opening ceremony itself centered closely on unity, with performances that gave a nod to all of the nations taking part on this yr’s match.
Whereas pre-match consideration was inevitably on the host nation, Qatar’s opponents additionally had a narrative to inform, with their place within the match solely confirmed just a few weeks in the past after being embroiled in a authorized dispute with rivals Chile.
It centered on the eligibility of Bryon Castillo, who, in accordance with rivals, was ineligible to symbolize Ecuador on account of claims that he was born in Colombia. The case was referred to the Courtroom of Arbitration for Sport, which dominated that Castillo was eligible however, regardless of this, was not included in his nation’s squad for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. In Sunday’s presentation, it didn’t seem that the group missed to Fort
Minutes into the match, the rowdy Ecuadorian followers had been celebrating after it regarded like their group had taken the lead. Valencia headed in from shut vary however the video assistant referee (VAR) deemed Valencia to be offside and disallowed the objective.
However a couple of minutes later, the yellow shirts had been celebrating once more when Valencia put their group forward from the penalty spot. Goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb fouled the striker as he tried to leap previous him.
The captain doubled his tally earlier than the tip of the primary half, driving a bullet header into the underside nook when Qatar lacked confidence and belief.
Now that the motion is underway, organizers will hope that focus will shift away from human rights and different points off the pitch. However in fact, the legacy of this match is not going to be decided on the pitch. Quite the opposite, it will likely be determined for an actual change and the advance of the lives of the individuals who helped to make this occur.