Qatar has waited 12 years to host the World Cup – but the first day didn’t go to plan

Fans being a bit slow coming back from a half-time spill is nothing new, and with brand-new refrigerators at Home Stadium stocked with Bud Zero, who can blame them?

But as the clock approached the hour mark, it became clear that the 10,000 Qatari fans in the crowd of 67,372 – the stadium’s capacity was given by the organizers as 60,000 – had disappeared.

When this exodus was pointed out on Twitter, some culturally sensitive souls, perhaps inspired by the opening ceremony, indicated that they might be arriving. After all, the final call to prayer that day had taken place during the tournament’s opening ceremony, so fans were probably making up for missing that day.

Luckily, the athlete He was sitting next to three friendly journalists from the host country, one of whom had already told us he had studied there Sunderland. He didn’t say what he studied and it doesn’t seem fair to ask.

“Excuse me. People on Twitter are wondering if fans who aren’t here are praying. Is that right?” we asked.


“No, you pray.”

“Oh, no. They just left. I left early too, when Sunderland went down.”

So, there you go. Despite everything that divides us, we are truly united through football.

There were thousands of empty seats long before the end world CupOpening Match (Photo: Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images)

Well, what else did we learn from today’s most anticipated World Cup opener?

Well, in chronological order, we can say that The Creek, the city where this game was played, is not Watford.

It has been suggested that all eight stadia used here were actually part of the greater city of Doha, in the same way that the aforementioned Hertfordshire is connected to London. This comparison only works if we think of Elstree, Bushey, and Stanmore as deserts. This has been suggested before as well, but it’s not true.

Al Bayt Stadium, which looks like a giant Bedouin tent, is also the only World Cup stadium not on the Doha Metro system. It might be an idea to move the tent a little closer, then, as the traffic outside was really world class.

There were long lines outside the stadium before the first match (Photo: Mustafa Yalcin/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

This, of course, may explain why so many Qatari fans quit early. Presumably, they couldn’t reserve a spot on the stadium’s helipad. However, lads – and they were mainly lads – I’ve waited 12 years for it, it’s cost no less than $200bn (£168bn), many lives and it’s only 2-0 left with half an hour left.

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But we’ll come back to all of that.

There was a nice commotion around the place before the game. The yellow shirts gave Ecuador fans a fantastic splash of color and hundreds of volunteer staff did their best to point people in the right direction, which was particularly helpful as no one had a clue where to go.

Ecuadorian fans were able to celebrate the 2-0 win in their match against Qatar (Picture: Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)

The opening ceremony was… Why did I tell you how the opening ceremony was? You have seen them all. If you try Complete 92 Blending mascot with music next to sports, we have Nick Miller has all the details.

One thing worth noting is that the co-star of the show was esteemed Hollywood actor Morgan Freeman.

He was last seen in a soccer-related setting blurting his lines at the finale of the US bid before the vote to decide who would host the World Cup in December 2010. However, he must have impressed someone at the time.

Watching all this singing and dancing and appealing to the noblest instincts of humanity were all star VIPs in the luxury seats.

The first to take his seat was the “Father Emir,” Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, who ruled Qatar Between 1995 and 2013, when he handed over the reins of power to his fourth son, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.

Sheikh Hamad is perhaps best known outside of Qatar for his celebrations when Sepp Blatter pulled the Qatar card from his envelope that day in Zurich nearly 12 years ago. However, he didn’t have much to cheer about here.

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King Abdullah II of Jordan sat next to him, to his right, then there were two vacant seats to his left, before we got to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Not just the Football Kings, then.

Those two seats were filled at exactly 5:40 pm, 20 minutes before kick-off, when the main man, Emperor Gianni Infantino, arrived alongside Sheikh Tamim.

The latter duly accepted his father’s hand and Infantino sat between the current rulers of Qatar and Saudi Arabia. It wasn’t long ago that the man known as Mohammed bin Salman was trying to destroy the Qatari economy by force FIFA To give Saudi Arabia some love for the 2022 World Cup and to fill the canal separating these two neighbors with toxic waste.

It looks like the water is under the bridge now.

Gianni Infantino mingled with the royal family, while addressing those inside the stadium with a speech before kick-off (Photo: Amin Mohamed Jamali/Getty Images)

Mohammed bin Salman sat next to Infantino in the opening match of the previous World Cup as well. gluttony for punishment

He’s seen his team beat 5-0 before Russia and then. Maybe (secretly) enjoy today’s game a little more.

Once the dancers and K-pop stars were led off the court (and hopefully a long way to go), Sheikh Tamim delivered a speech in Arabic before ending with a warm smile and the English words “Hello and good luck everyone.”

Then Infantino, FIFA’s human C-3PO, said the same thing in Arabic, Spanish and English, before we all – including David Beckham – just settled into soccer!

David Beckham is the World Cup ambassador for Qatar. (Photo: Mike Egerton/PA Images via Getty Images)

Oh, but did anyone tell the hosts? Or the chapters in a semi-automated infiltration technology closet?

Because within minutes of the start, goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb flailed on a cross (he would become a theme of the evening as the fishy dance chant of the Doha All-Male Choir in the singing section behind his goal) and the former. West Ham And the everton Forward Enner Valencia was shaking the ball at the back post. Cue South American celebrations.

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But then, with the players back in their positions and Qatar about to start again, The video assistant referee ruled the goal offside.


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Speaking to reporters on Friday, FIFA’s Chief Referee Pierluigi Collina assured us that the latest version of VAR technology will be faster, more accurate and easier to explain to the watching public. it wouldn’t be; Yes maybe; And, erm, I’m still not sure I got it, then.

whatever. Ecuador They were all over Qatar, who had spent the last six months in camp together, training like a club team. A side of the second league team with its appearance.

Valencia got their goal after 16 minutes when he was scooting around the grayling, but fell by tapping on a textbook. There was no reconsideration of that decision, and the 33-year-old, who now plays for Fenerbahçe in Turkey, chose himself and blocked the penalty. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan watching the scene would have enjoyed it.

Ecuador’s night got better in the 31st minute, when the frightened Qatari defenders on the stage once again tipped the ball away – right-back Angelo Preciado put the ball into the mixer and Valencia took up the rest.

That, in football terms, was pretty much it.

Ecuador turned down a few good chances, without even getting out of the third wheel.

Qatar, the 2019 Asian champions, have woken up a bit. But they still didn’t manage a shot on goal. And the stadium was half empty – sorry, let’s be positive, half full – with 10 minutes to play.

Never mind, African champions only Senegal and the Hollandranked eighth in the world, to come in Group A.

And everyone will at least now focus on how poor the Qatar team is, how beautiful their fans are, and when Mohammed bin Salman will see his national team host one of the opening matches of the World Cup, rather than focusing on all those negative things.


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(Top photo: David S Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images))

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