Qatar kick off World Cup 2022 with Morgan Freeman and BTS star Jung Kook

Qatar kick off World Cup 2022 with Morgan Freeman and BTS star Jung Kook

Qatar raised the curtain on the most controversial World Cup in history with the help of Morgan Freeman and BTS singer Jung Kook at the opening ceremony.

The build-up to the tournament has been dominated with questions over the Gulf state's suitability as hosts, from accusations of corruption in the bidding process to the nation's abysmal human rights record.

The message at the opening ceremony was one of togetherness. Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, flanked by FIFA president Gianni Infantino, said the world's greatest football tournament gathered people of all nationalities and beliefs.

“From Qatar, from the Arab world, I welcome everyone to the World Cup 2022,” he said in Arabic. “How lovely it is that people can put aside what divides them to celebrate their diversity and what brings them together all at once.”

A number of past World Cup mascots featured (Getty Images)
A number of past World Cup mascots featured (Getty Images)

On the pitch, Freeman followed three camels onto the pitch and spoke about the world uniting around the tournament.

The crowd, which featured a number of empty seats due to traffic outside the stadium, were then treated to the World Cup song 'Dreamers', by Jung Kook and Qatari singer Fahad Al-Kubaisi.

The World Cup 2022 mascot La’eeb (AFP via Getty Images)
The World Cup 2022 mascot La’eeb (AFP via Getty Images)

A number of past World Cup mascots were also presented, complete with a melody of tournament songs, including Shakira’s ‘Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)’, before the Qatar mascot, called La'eeb, was shown off.

Morgan Freeman and Qatari YouTuber Ghanim al Muftah (AP)
Morgan Freeman and Qatari YouTuber Ghanim al Muftah (AP)

Saudi Arabia's crown prince and the presidents of Egypt, Turkey and Algeria, as well as the United Nations Secretary-General, were all also in attendance in the 60,000-seater Al Bayt Stadium, which is covered by a huge tent-like structure.