Ecuador dampens Qatar’s celebration as controversial World Cup will get underway

Al Khor, Qatar

For the previous 12 months, a large clock in Doha has been counting right down to the opening match of the World Cup. Qatar and the world want wait no extra, after this controversial event received underway Sunday with the host shedding 2-0 to Ecuador.

After a spectacular opening ceremony, which starred the likes of Hollywood actor Morgan Freeman and BTS star Jung Kook, the game itself lastly took heart stage after being overshadowed by off-the-pitch issues through the build-up.

It wasn’t the consequence that many in Qatar would have hoped for. The host regarded nervous and struggled in opposition to an opposition possessing expertise and high quality. In reality, the sport was all however over at halftime, with Ecuador comfortably 2-0 up thanks to 2 objectives by Enner Valencia.

All the thrill pre-match slowly drained away 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 received to Sunday’s kickoff in Doha, the extra excited followers on this metropolis grew to become. An impressive firework show lit up the sky on Saturday night time and social media exploded with Qataris making their enthusiasm recognized about internet hosting certainly one of sport’s largest occasions.

Over the previous few days, followers from all over the world have gathered in squares in downtown Doha to sing, chant and wave their nationwide flags, making a unbelievable ambiance.

That pageant spirit continued on match day, from the town heart to the newly-built Al Bayt Stadium, which hosted the opening match of this historic World Cup, the primary to be held within the Center East.

People watch as fireworks go off before the start of the World Cup at the Al Bayt Stadium.

At instances, it has felt like every other main worldwide event, however the build-up to this occasion has, in fact, been in contrast to every other.

Corruption scandals plagued FIFA, world soccer’s governing physique, after it awarded Qatar the event in 2010 – although Qatari officers have beforehand “strongly denied” to CNN the allegations of bribery which has surrounded its bid.

For over a decade, and more and more in order kickoff neared, the pre-tournament build-up has targeted on the nation’s human rights report, from the demise of migrant employees and the circumstances many have endured in Qatar, in addition to its LGBTQ legal guidelines and the position of ladies in its society. The nation’s last-minute ban of 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 recreation demonstrated simply how little on-field points have featured thus far.

The FIFA boss addressed tons of of journalists in Doha, Saturday, and began the information convention with a close to hour-long speech, throughout which he accused Western critics of hypocrisy and racism.

These concerned within the event have confronted a lot criticism. Colombian singer Maluma, who options within the official World Cup anthem, walked out of an interview on Israeli tv when he was questioned concerning the Gulf state’s human rights report.

The opening ceremony itself targeted closely on unity, with performances giving a nod to all of the international locations enjoying on this 12 months’s event.

Whereas the pre-match consideration was inevitably on the host nation, Qatar’s opponents additionally had a narrative to inform as its place within the event was solely confirmed weeks in the past after it was concerned in a authorized dispute with rivals Chile.

It centered across the eligibility of Bryon Castillo who, rivals argued, was ineligible to characterize Ecuador over claims he was born in Colombia. The case was referred to the Court docket of Arbitration for Sport, who deemed Castillo eligible however, regardless of this, he was not included in his nation’s World Cup squad for Qatar 2022. On Sunday’s exhibiting, it doesn’t appear to be the workforce miss Castillo.

Valencia scores past Qatar's goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb for Ecuador's opening goal.

Minutes after the sport began, the noisy Ecuadorian followers had been celebrating after it appeared their aspect had taken the lead. Valencia headed in from shut vary however the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) deemed Valencia was offside and disallowed the aim.

However simply minutes later, the yellow shirts had been celebrating once more as Valencia put his aspect forward from the penalty spot. Goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb had fouled the ahead as he tried to skip past him.

The captain doubled his tally earlier than the primary half completed, directing a bullet header into the underside nook as Qatar regarded in need of confidence and perception.

Now that the motion is underway, organizers will hope consideration will transfer away from human rights and different off-field points. However, in fact, this event’s legacy won’t be decided on the pitch. As a substitute, it is going to be determined by actual change and the development of the lives of the individuals who helped make it occur.