‘Today I feel gay, I feel disabled’: Fifa president Gianni Infantino at World Cup
This is it. The 2022 Fifa World Cup is starting today with an opening ceremony before controversial hosts Qatar take on Ecuador in the tournament’s opening fixture at 4pm. Fifa has been grilled with questions over their decision to award the World Cup to Qatar, especially in light of years of controversy in the country.
The exploitation of migrant workers has been compared to “modern slavery” and LGBTQ+ groups have said they do not feel safe visiting Qatar, while just a few days ago organisers rescinded an agreed policy to sell alcohol around the stadiums, throwing Fifa’s control of the tournament into question. Fifa president Gianni Infantino gave a tone-deaf speech on the eve of the tournament’s start alienating some of the minority groups harmed by the host nation, and taking shots at the Western media for their coverage of Qatar’s issues.
Now the opening ceremony inside Al Bayt Stadium will kick off the first World Cup in the Middle East and Arab world. The show will last for 30 minutes and feature a performance from Dreamers, celebrated South Korean pop star Jung Kook of BTS and Qatari singer Fahad Al-Kubaisi.
Follow all the action from the Opening Ceremony before today’s opening fixture between Qatar and Ecuador:
What time is Qatar vs Ecuador today and what channel is it on?
Qatar will kick-off the 2022 World Cup against Group A rivals Ecuador on Sunday.
It may only be the first game of the tournament but it could be crucial, given the challenge ahead for these two sides. Netherlands and African champions Senegal await, and that means defeat in this first match could well be terminal for Qatar or Ecuador.
The build-up to the tournament has been dominated by Qatar’s abuse of the migrant workers who built the stadiums and infrastructure over the past decade so that the World Cup could go ahead, on top of concerns around the safety of LGBTQ+ football fans in a conservative Islamic nation where male homosexuality is still illegal.
Both Fifa and Qatari organisers will be hoping the football can now fill the spotlight, but there is unlikely to be any let up from global scrutiny.
Here is everything you need to know as the World Cup gets under way:
Michael Jones20 November 2022 11:12
Protests against human rights abuses in Iran and Qatar held in London before World Cup
Protests have broken out in London over the controversial World Cup hosts Qatar and their shocking record of human rights abuses.
The protests also cover Iran’s involvement in the tournament following a popular uprising against the Iranian republic and the rumours of mass executions.
Protests against human rights abuses in Iran and Qatar held in London before World Cup
Michael Jones20 November 2022 11:07
Qatar aim to avoid embarrassment after 12 long years preparing for World Cup
When they kick off against Ecuador on Sunday, it is with an altogether better pedigree. Qatar have won their last five games, albeit against teams who have not qualified for the World Cup. For the first time, they won the Asian Cup in 2019. They were Gold Cup semi-finalists in 2021. As the Qatari league paused in September, they have had longer to prepare than anyone else. Some of it has been spent at a training camp in Marbella. Some of their summer involved playing friendlies against European club sides.
“Qatar go into this tournament with an organised and well-drilled squad who are familiar with the stadiums, heat and landscape of the country,” noted Neil McGuinness, who previously worked for the Qatar FA and Aspire Academy on the identification and selection of players ahead of the World Cup.
Michael Jones20 November 2022 11:02
The human cost of Qatar 2022
The Doha Metro is one of the engineering jewels of Qatar, a $36bn (£32bn) ultra-modern transport system, speeding people around the Gulf state’s glass-towered futurescape capital and beyond. Usually it can be used to move between restaurants in the formerly run-down Msheireb district, or five-star hotels in Doha’s well-heeled West Bay.
But for the next few weeks, tens of thousands of football fans will use it to get to each of the eight stadiums of the Qatar World Cup, from Al Janoub in the south to Al Bayt in the north.
It spans 76km (47 miles), has 37 stations, and is perhaps the single greatest symbol of how Qatar’s staggering wealth and ambition has helped to utterly transform the country in the past few years.
The incredible transformation of Qatar has been in readiness for the World Cup. No country has ever been so physically changed just to hold a football tournament.
The bill stands at $200bn – but the true price of hosting football’s greatest prize has been paid by the migrant workers who have suffered abuse and even death to bring the tournament to the Middle East. Grieving families tell David Harding their stories
Michael Jones20 November 2022 10:57
Fifa’s re-elected president, Gianni Infantino, spins an ever-spreading web of influence
On Sunday at Al Bayt Stadium, Gianni Infantino will be more than willing to share the spotlight with the Emir of Qatar, but it isn’t a privilege the newly re-elected Fifa president affords many. Take a story from a few weeks ago. With the World Cup 2022 so close, the Lisbon-based Web Summit wanted both Arsene Wenger and Infantino to come and do a talk. Negotiations broke down for a few reasons, but one element raises a chuckle from those with knowledge of the talks. There was a request for Infantino to have a more prominent speaking slot than Wenger.
The story does tally with a common refrain from a lot of people you speak to about Infantino.
“It’s all about him.”
There was then whatever that World Cup opening press conference was. Infantino surpassed himself as well as Sepp Blatter with a cascade of frankly astonishing statements. The Fifa president attempted a statesman’s address but essentially just showed why the game is in the state it is. You could joke it was the biggest miss to open a World Cup since Diana Ross’s penalty, except the truth is so many of the issues he blithely glossed over are so serious, from the conditions of migrant workers to LGBTQ+ concerns in Qatar.
Michael Jones20 November 2022 10:52
Everything wrong with the Qatar World Cup
Out of the many facts and figures circulated about Qatar’s problems, there is one realisation that should stand above everything. It is a disgrace that, in 2022, a country can host a World Cup where it has lured millions of people from the poorest countries on earth – often under false pretences – and then forced them into what many call “modern slavery”.
And yet this has just been accepted. The World Cup carries on, an end product of a structure that is at once Orwellian and Kafkaesque. A huge underclass of people work in an autocratic surveillance state, amid an interconnected network of issues that make it almost impossible to escape. “It’s all so embedded,” says Michael Page of Human Rights Watch.
Many will point to similar problems in the west but this isn’t the failure of a system. It is the system, global inequality taken to an extreme. “The bottom line is that these human rights abuses are not normal for a World Cup host,” says Minky Worden, also of Human Rights Watch.
Michael Jones20 November 2022 10:47
The World Cup kicks off with Qatar against Ecuador
After all the controversy, the 2022 World Cup finally gets under way in Qatar on Sunday, when the hosts face Ecuador.
Qatar coach Felix Sanchez, meanwhile, is hoping for the best when the Gulf nation make their World Cup debut in Al Khor, while there was a late injury blow for France, with Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema ruled out of the tournament.
Here ’s a look back at Saturday’s events at the 2022 World Cup and ahead to Sunday’s action:
Michael Jones20 November 2022 10:43
World Cup opening ceremony
Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s coverage of the 2022 Fifa World Cup. This is it.
Perhaps the most controversial of any World Cups gets underway this afternoon following years of controversy and coverage over Qatar’s human rights issues and how the country treats its migrant workforce, not to mention the laws restricting the rights of the LGBTQ+ community.
Fifa president Gianni Infantino fanned the flames of anger towards the host nation with an appallingly offensive speech yesterday which alienated most of the minority groups harmed by Qatar’s morality and as well as taking shots at the western media for their coverage of Qatar’s problems.
Yet the tournament goes on and there is football to play. An opening ceremony is scheduled for 2pm this afternoon before the action kicks off with Qatar vs Ecuador at 4pm. We’ll bring you all the news and updates throughout the day before live coverage of the opening ceremony and the first fixture of the 2022 World Cup.
Michael Jones20 November 2022 10:38