An opening ceremony at a World Cup is not the norm.
Then again, nothing about Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 FIFA men’s World Cup has been traditional.
During the roughly 30-minute production Sunday – produced by Olympic ceremony veteran Marco Balich – stars such as American actor Morgan Freeman and Korean pop-star Jungkook took the stage.
Freeman’s speech, which appeared to be lip-synched, included his typical charismatic tones.
“What unites us here is so much greater than what divides us. How can we make it last longer?” said Freeman, who 12 years ago was a face behind the United States’ attempt to secure the 2022 World Cup bid before FIFA awarded the tournament to Qatar amid waves of corruption scandals and bribes.
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“The supreme committee wanted to create a real show, which FIFA is not accustomed to,” Balich told last week.
Jungkook and Qatari singer Fahad Al Kubaisi performed the song “Dreamers.”
The ceremony, which preceded the first match of the tournament between Qatar and Ecuador at 11 am ET., was one of the reasons why in August the World Cup start was moved up a day in a late switch, giving the show a more prominent viewing slot.
“FIFA and the supreme committee – especially FIFA – realized how much effort was going into creating the ceremony and creating for the first time something that’s not just someone singing before the opening game,” Balich said.