FIFA has waived holding an opening ceremony before each World Cup match on the instructions of the Qatar Supreme Committee.
The lavish 30-minute ceremony led by Morgan Freeman at Al Bayt Stadium on Sunday night was widely criticized for its hypocrisy and symbolic character in Europe due to FIFA’s attempt to promote supposedly universal human values, with the BBC denying to air it on its main channels, and plans for the rest of the tournament have now been scaled back.
FIFA had planned and rehearsed similar ceremonies for each of the 64 World Cup matches, but Sportsmail has learned that the Supreme Committee has now taken over the delivery of events on match days which will therefore be more limited.
FIFA has waived holding an opening ceremony before each World Cup match on the instructions of the Qatar Supreme Committee. Pictured: Sunday night opening ceremony of the 2022 World Cup, before the first game between Qatar and Ecuador
Instead of a lengthy pre-match show, a shorter two-minute ceremony featuring a large World Cup replica and the flags of each of the 32 competing nations will take place before the first game staged in each of the eight tournament stadiums, although FIFA insiders clarified that this plan is also subject to possible late modification.
The 11-hour rearrangements in a 12-year-planned World Cup were a feature of the first tournament held in the Gulf region and raised questions about who is actually in charge.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino insisted over the weekend that he was “200 per cent” in control of the event, but FIFA’s decision to remove alcohol sales from stadiums came at the last minute following a request from the Supreme Committee suggested otherwise.
FIFA had planned and rehearsed similar ceremonies for each of the 64 World Cup matches, but Sportsmail has learned that the Supreme Committee has now taken over the delivery of matchday events which, as a result, will be more limited.
Dancers perform with puppets of former World Cup mascots during Sunday night’s opening ceremony at Al-Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, north of Doha
The lavish 30-minute ceremony led by Morgan Freeman (pictured left) at Al Bayt Stadium on Sunday night was widely criticized for its hypocrisy and symbolism in Europe due to FIFA’s attempt to promote supposedly universal human values.
In further embarrassment for FIFA, the opening match of the World Cup saw thousands of empty seats during the match, as spectators watching the first-round clash between the host country and Ecuador left early.
The Al-Bayt stadium in Al Khor, which seats up to 60,000 people, had thousands of empty seats approaching full time as Qatari fans left before the final whistle.
Empty seats were also present during the opening ceremony, and while the stadium seemed to fill up in time for kick-off, they could be seen again during the second half of the game, with many spectators choosing to leave. early.
The match saw Ecuador beat the hosts 2-0, with captain Enner Valencia scoring both goals for the South Americans, who were encouraged by their traveling support.
The loss, coupled with empty seats, will raise concerns about enthusiasm for the tournament in the country, which has a population of less than three million (of which only 300,000 are Qatari citizens) and is about half the size of Wales.
There were empty seats between fans in the stadium during the tournament opener between Qatar and Ecuador on Sunday night
There were plenty of empty seats in the Al Khor stadium as the hosts lost 2-0 to the South American side.
The country is estimated to have spent £184billion staging the event and building seven new stadiums, all of which can hold at least 40,000 people.
In the country’s capital, Doha, 30 miles to the south, the streets were largely quiet, although there were chaotic scenes inside and outside the fan festival at Al Bidda Park a hour before kick-off after organizers allowed too many fans to flood the enclosure.
The World Cup, which has been plagued by controversy over the Middle Eastern country’s treatment of foreign workers, LGBT+ rights and social restrictions, has been seen by Qataris as a way to tarnish its image on the world stage.
The nation has denied accusations of worker abuse and discrimination, but that hasn’t stopped BBC coverage, led by Gary Lineker, including a prepackaged report on Qatar’s questionable human rights record. man and the controversy surrounding the tournament, instead of showing the opening ceremony.
This follows accusations that fake “fans” have been hired by the Qatari regime to excite crowds by supporting various nations, which the country strongly denies.
Rows of empty seats were seen in the stands before the final whistle in the opening match between Ecuador and Qatar tonight
Pictured: A general view of the opening ceremony of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Group A opening match between Qatar and Ecuador at Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, Qatar on 20 november
In an embarrassing moment for FIFA organisers, they were forced to allow a ban on the sale of alcohol at matches after the Qatari royal family pressured the body over the strict ban of the country to drink in public.
FIFA previously charged Budweiser £63million for a sponsorship deal giving them a beer monopoly over the tournament – but much of that sum could now be wasted due to the last-minute rule change.
It happened just 48 hours before the start of the tournament and left fans furious, accusing the host nation of ‘ruining’ the World Cup before it had even started.
Fans can now only buy alcohol in certain hotels and bars in the FIFA fan zone, but here they can only buy four pints at a cost of £12.50 each.
On Saturday, the precarious start to the tournament was prevented by FIFA boss Gianni Infantino, who gave a rambling and bizarre press conference in which he condemned criticism of the host country.
He claimed he felt like a ‘woman’, ‘migrant worker’, ‘gay’, ‘Qatar’, ‘Asian’ and various other identities, which sparked a furious reaction online considering emphasis on the rights of women and minorities. groups in the country.