The grand opening of the 22nd World cup was not only about an easy Ecuador win but a genuine geopolitical event.
There were many empty seats as the hosts were beaten 2-0. The present dignitaries were Fifa president Gianni Infantino, the emir of Qatar and Saudi Arabian crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, and Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
It was not a normal match with an odd sort of morality play to it. It establishes the fact that there are things for which money is not the only factor to enhance sports. Qatar can afford 220 billion pounds in infrastructure but they cannot make a good national team with bad players. They have put up a worst-ever opening performance and are the first to lose this fixture.
Ecuador’s Enner Valencia had it clear to win over Qatar and they scored an easy 2-0. There were many odd moments after the opening ceremony as Qatar could not able to impose itself on Ecuador. Seeing the raucous football culture, there was an extended period of silence and it wasn’t all shock at Saad Abdullah al-Sheeb’s goalkeeping. The Ecuador fans chanted “si se puede” and the Qatari group decked in maroon constantly waved and bounced.
This was primarily a political occasion more than a World Cup opening game. As per Infantino “Football unites the world”. He quoted “Instead of accepting a new way, we demanded our own way.” His bizarre speech led to various criticisms of this world cup. It was not much of a football match that can be spoken off. In the opening moments when Al- sheeb came for a free kick, he missed it and missed it again.
The match led to the dismissal of Qatar being a good team. The former West Ham United striker himself scored by hitting it low, before rising for an admirably thunderous header to make it 2-0. This must have been a game like no other the Ecuadorians have played. It was far too much for Qatar’s players.