Qatar loses to Ecuador during the FIFA World Cup opening match
Qatar became the first World Cup hosts in history to lose their opening match, going down 2-0 to Ecuador on Sunday as football’s showpiece got underway after 12 years of turbulent preparations.
Qatar has spent $200 billion on a remarkable construction project to host the World Cup after the tiny Gulf state shocked the football world by winning the right to host the tournament in 2010.
A crowd of 67,372 packed into the impressive Al Bayt Stadium, modeled on a traditional Bedouin tent, for the opening ceremony.
South Korean K-pop star Jung Kook headlined the 30-minute spectacle that featured Hollywood star Morgan Freeman giving a message of diversity.
Ghanim Al-Muftah, a Qatari activist for the disabled, born with the rare Caudal Regression Syndrome, appeared with Freeman and stated to the crowd: “Everyone is welcome”.
With FIFA president Gianni Infantino and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman watching, Qatar’s Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani told the crowd: “We will follow with the whole world, God willing, the great football festival in this open space for human and civilized communication.”
Once the action began, reigning Asian champions Qatar were easily beaten.
Ecuador thought they had made a dream start within three minutes when they silenced the home fans as Enner Valencia headed in, only for the goal to be ruled out by VAR for offside in the build-up.
Thirteen minutes later, Ecuador did take the lead after Valencia dribbled round Qatari goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb who grabbed his shin and the referee pointed to the spot. Valencia coolly rolled home the penalty.
Valencia added a second goal to seal Ecuador’s 2-0 win.
Qatar coach Felix Sanchez said: “The atmosphere was one of great expectation. We are sorry that we could not be part of the party, but we knew that this scenario could happen… We will try to learn.”