Qatar has become the first host country in football history for losing the opening match of the World Cup amidst farcical scenes as the flagship event kicked off on Sunday. That controversial tournament It opened with the hosts losing 2-0 to Ecuador in front of 67,372 fans at Al Bayt Stadium.
In 92 years of football’s greatest event, no host country had ever lost its opening game. But that all changed on Sunday as Qatar went under amid more World Cup controversy.
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The game took place after a colorful 30-minute opening ceremony hosted by Oscar winner Morgan Freeman and attended by powerful dignitaries such as Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who promoted inclusion and humanity’s life “under a tent”. .
But that message seems confusing to many given that this World Cup is being hosted by an emirate where homosexual acts are illegal, one that has been heavily criticized for the way migrant workers have been treated in building stadiums and tournament infrastructure since Qatar won the scandalous vote in 2010.
As the game started with over 67,000 spectators, football fans around the world were dismayed when the stadium was half empty at the start of the second half. Football broadcasts around the world showed dozens of empty seats in the stands in embarrassing scenes for FIFA and Qatar.
Many on social media were also quick to point out that there weren’t too many women in the crowd, while others brutally described the World Cup in Qatar as the “worst ever” after just one game.
Blow to Qatar amplifies hosts’ World Cup headaches
The inaugural World Cup in the Middle East is a chance for Qatar, a tiny Arab country jutting into the Persian Gulf, to showcase itself to the whole world.
But his football team, playing at this level for the first time due to the way the tournament was hosted, couldn’t live up to the moment as Ecuadorian captain Enner Valencia scored both goals in the first half.
Widespread scrutiny of the World Cup in Qatar would never end just because football had started, but a win for the host country would at least have put the country in a somewhat favorable light.
Instead, Qatar’s players froze in front of an expectant crowd and a disciplined Ecuadorian team that could pose a threat to higher-profile opponents in the coming weeks.
Valencia thought he had scored in the third minute when he headed in from close range following an acrobatic cross from Felix Torres. After a video review lasting about two minutes, the Ecuadorian celebrations were cut short when the goal was ruled out for what appeared to be a minor offside position.
Ecuador took the lead in the 16th minute when Saad Alsheeb brought down Valencia after circling the keeper who had been cautioned for the tackle. Valencia was nonchalant as he trotted up and converted the penalty into the bottom corner.
The 33-year-old forward added his second in the 33rd by heading in a right cross from Angelo Preciado. With Qatar’s passes often going astray and their defensive weaknesses repeatedly exposed, Ecuador had no problem maintaining their lead while Sanchez stood helpless in his technical area and the home fans fell silent.
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