World Cup 2022 opening ceremony LIVE!
It’s finally here. A World Cup no other kicks off this afternoon as Qatar welcomes the world’s best players for a winter World Cup. After over a decade of controversy, the world is watching as the Gulf state raises the curtain on the latest edition of the football extravaganza.
Fifa president Gianni Infantino yesterday did little to calm fears of a chaotic World Cup with a remarkable, and defiant, speech criticising the western media coverage of the hosts. But now football must be played, and the tournament officially begins inside the Al Bayt Stadium at around 2.30pm, before the first game between Qatar and Ecuador.
We are expecting pop star Jung Kook of BTS to be involved, but opening ceremony stalwart Robbie Williams will not be performing despite claims on the contrary. Follow the opening ceremony below with Standard Sport’s dedicated LIVE blog, featuring on-the-ground insight and reaction from Malik Ouzia in Doha.
World Cup 2022 latest news
Start time: 2.30pm, GMT
How to watch
Who is performing?
Who is attending?
15:32 , Alex Young
Qatar raised the curtain on the most controversial World Cup 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 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."
15:28 , Alex Young
The mascots were really good.
15:24 , Alex Young
We finish off with an impressive fireworks display.
The mascots were good, and the drums.
15:13 , Alex Young
A Qatari official speaks first in Arabic and then in English, signing off with: "Welcome, and good luck to all."
FIFA president Gianni Infantino is sat next to him sporting the biggest grin.
15:09 , Alex Young
A big cheer goes up as Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani is shown on the screen.
He was instrumental in Qatar winning the right to host the World Cup.
15:08 , Alex Young
Now some more Morgan Freeman and another montage.
15:03 , Alex Young
Here we go then. Jung Kook of BTS is on stage singing 'Dreamers'.
He's wearing a very sparkly bomber jacket.
14:59 , Alex Young
Now loads of past World Cup mascots are being trotted out to the 2010 World Cup anthem.
Lots going on.
14:55 , Alex Young
Lots of topless men playing the drums with their hands, while a catch song about countries is being sung.
14:51 , Alex Young
Oh, Morgan Freeman is narrating this opening ceremony in person. He’s actually there.
The message is that this World Cup is open to the whole world.
14:47 , Alex Young
Morgan Freeman is doing the voiceover. No better man for the job, I suppose.
14:46 , Alex Young
Here we go then. The opening ceremony has begun, complete with a fancy promo vid as all the lights inside the stadium go dark.
14:40 , Alex Young
The Qatar squad are taking in the scenes. The host nation will play their first ever World Cup game in a little over an hour.
14:31 , Alex Young
The opening ceremony should be getting underway shortly. Here’s how the weather is looking - still quite toasty.
— Qatar Football Association (@QFA_EN) November 20, 2022
14:21 , Alex Young
This ceremony, of course, was originally set to happen tomorrow, with Qatar playing Ecuador as the third game of the tournament, until a relatively recent change moved the start date forward to today.
This is the first time the tournament has kicked off on a Sunday since 1982, when Belgium stunned reigning champions Argentina in Spain.
13:59 , Alex Young
Not a bad venue to kick things off in.
13:41 , Alex Young
We’re about an hour away from the opening ceremony. Fans are starting to arrive.
13:21 , Alex Young
Not content with one member of BTS (and maybe Robbie Williams?), those in Doha today will also be treated to Nicki Minaj, Maluma and Myriam Fares showing off the official tournament song ‘Tukoh Taka’.
13:02 , Alex Young
Our man Malik Ouzia has arrived, and with some welcome too.
Guard of honour from these chaps on arrival at Al Bayt Stadium for the opener pic.twitter.com/ziytckkFO6
— Malik Ouzia (@MalikOuzia_) November 20, 2022
12:50 , Alex Young
Pep Guardiola is at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, and has been collared by Sky Sports’ F1 team for this thoughts on the World Cup.
'England's quality is there!' ✨
Pep Guardiola previews the World Cup 🍿 pic.twitter.com/OZF815Uk2N
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) November 20, 2022
12:44 , Alex Young
The atmosphere is building. The ceremony is expected to start in about two hours.
12:25 , Alex Young
The original plan was for the opening ceremony to be held before Qatar's first game on Monday, which would have created the unusual situation of two games being held before it. Qatar's opening match was then brought forward by a day.
The 60,000-capacity Al Bayt Stadium is the venue, sitting 25 miles north of Doha, making it the furthest away from the capital city, but also one of the biggest and it has a retractable roof. The stadium is named and designed after the tents used by nomads in the Gulf.
12:06 , Alex Young
Despite his nation kicking things off this afternoon, Ecuadorean President Guillermo Lasso said he would not attend the game, citing domestic unrest.
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is in Doha and will be at today’s opening ceremony, and will be joined by Egypt's president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
Who is performing
11:56 , Alex Young
South Korean band BTS said Jungkook, one of their seven members, will be performing a track titled "Dreamers", and local Qatari singers Fahad Al-Kubaisi and Dana will also perform at the opening ceremony.
It was thought at Robbie Williams would take part but, alas, no. Dua Lipa has already denied she will be performing, adding that she looks forward to the hosts improving their dismal human rights record before she visits the Gulf state. Rod Stewart has previously claimed he turned down an offer of “over $1 million” to perform.
FIFA have said the ceremony "will include tributes to the 32 competing teams, previous World Cup hosts and event volunteers” in a show which is expected to last around half an hour.
Where to watch
11:40 , Alex Young
TV channel: In the UK, BBC One will broadcast the ceremony live free-to-air in the UK.
Live stream: The proceedings will also be shown on the BBC iPlayer and BBC Sport website.
Here we go
11:29 , Alex Young
A World Cup 12 years in the making finally kicks off this afternoon as Qatar raise the curtain on a controversial 22nd edition of the football tournament.
The first game is between the hosts and Ecuador, with kick off at 4pm GMT. The opening ceremony is expected to start around an hour and a half beforehand at 2.30pm.
Stick with us.