History has been made. The games have begun, and surround sound has finally made its way to football.While 1.2 million fans visit Qatar, five billion watch them on screens. It’s our turn to document the FIFA World Cup special in its first week for posterity.
Qatar becomes the first Middle Eastern country to host the FIFA World Cup in 2022. It kicked off in Qatar on Sunday 20 November at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor. The event’s opening ceremony was an extravaganza of performances and visual delight. Officially inaugurated by Qatar’s ruler, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, with a message for people of all races and orientations to put aside their differences. In the opening ceremony, Hollywood star Morgan Freeman, South Asian K-pop singer Jungkook, and Qatari singer Fahad Al-Kubasi, among many others, performed. The 85-year-old Morgan Freeman walked through the stadium among performers and gave his voice to preach the word of inclusion by celebrating each other’s differences and for a call for love and acceptance. He was joined by the Qatari YouTuber Ghanim Al Muftah on stage, where they sat together and elucidated about divisions and differences that exist around the world.
New Investments: Good News
At a time when two prestigious English clubs, Liverpool and Manchester United, are up for sale, football seems to have located a new address, Qatar. The Middle East spent a considerable amount, and the last decade has been historically significant for the games. The uber-rich in the Middle East have increased their appetite for sports consumption as the global economic downturn appears to be affecting the UK economy and the rest of Europe is in desperate need of the ultimate sporting pilgrimage, which has been scarred post-Corona.
Although Qatar is out of the World Cup, it attracted fans to the stadium filled with raucous home support. Qatar, playing its first World Cup game ever, failed to draw inspiration from the fans or the richness of its precious past showcased during the opening act of Arabia’s magical realism. The host nation tried hard, but the lack of big-game experience and the individual brilliance of Premier League discard Enner Valencia handed it a 2-0 loss—the first for a host on the opening day of the competition.
English Carnage vs Iran
Gareth Southgate’s England pulled off an almost perfect job as they scored six goals against Iran to win their opening match of Group B at Khalifa Stadium. Iran also pulled two back. England had a prolific start to their campaign as Jude Bellingham scored from a perfect header to give them the lead. Bukayo Saka doubled the lead soon, and Raheem Sterling scored from a volley to make it 3-0 in favour of the Three Lions before the end of the first half.
In the second half, England continued the scoring spree as Saka earned a brace. Mehdi Taremi, the FC Porto striker, scored for Iran in the second half to get their first goal of the game. Marcus Rashford and Jack Grealish, who came off the bench after the first 70 minutes, scored as well for England to make it 6-1. Taremi made it a brace for himself, scoring from the spot after the VAR adjudged a shirt pull by the English defence and awarded Iran a penalty. It ended 6-2 in favour of England.
Saudi Arabia knocked off Lionel Messi and Argentina, 2-1, in the Group C opener
Saudi Arabia greeted Argentina with a whiplash of two goals. The diamond led to Saleh al-Shehri’s goal in 48 minutes and Salem al-Dawsari’s goal in 53 minutes, which stunned the world. thus creating the biggest update in the history of football. The memorable win is special as Argentina waltzed into FIFA, without losing any games in the previous 36 encounters. The stadium saw its first World Cup goal when Saudi Arabia suffered a penalty for what appeared to be some mild roughhousing in the box, and Messi, of course, took that penalty. He directed it simply and leftward into the corner for his seventh career World Cup goal since his debut as a teenager in 2006—all of those goals in group play—and everything looked normal at 1-0 to Argentina. This World Cup was made for deep lows, extreme highs, and the emergence of the crowned prince on the football field.
Cristiano Ronaldo became the first player to score in five World Cups as his penalty helped Portugal secure a 3-2 win over Ghana in a thrilling Group H encounter. Ronaldo, the only jobless player in the WC squad, is now a free agent after leaving Manchester United by mutual consent in the wake of his explosive interview, hit back at his critics with yet another piece of history when he converted the opener from the spot after he was fouled by Mohammed Salisu (65).
Ghana equalised against the run of play when Andre Ayew, their own veteran striker, fired home from close range (73), but Portugal immediately responded with quickfire goals from Joao Felix (78) and substitute Rafael Leao (80), both set up by Bruno Fernandes.
Ronaldo, who scored his first World Cup goal as a 21-year-old back in 2006, reveled in the spotlight following a tumultuous week and received a standing ovation when he was substituted in the closing stages, but Portugal had to survive a nervy finale after Osman Bukari headed home Ghana’s second goal (89).
Spain made their mark on the 2022 World Cup with a 7-0 thrashing of Costa Rica and a performance that sent a message to sides backing themselves to win the tournament.
Group E was dubbed the “Group of Death” ahead of the finals, but Spain will have little fear going into their clash against Germany after dispatching Costa Rica with consummate ease and achieving their biggest-ever World Cup win in the process.
France made a bold statement by winning the first match. Do winners curse? They got off to a slow start as Australia opened the account first. But that was just the motivation Les Blues needed to fire their motors. Rabiot scored the first goal, and then set up the second for Giroud. They added two more in the second half as Mbappe was in form. Giroud became the joint-highest scorer, drawing level with Thierry Henry at 51 goals. The two settled the three points for their side.
As we progress into the second week, many memories will be made and more narratives will be created. And we’re watching it all from up close.
The author is the founder of Indian Sports Fan.