Opening ceremony highlights of the 2022 World Cup

Hosts opened the tournament with an opening day loss to - you can read our coverage of that match here.

Earlier today, BTS star Jung Kook began the festivities in the opening ceremony at the Al Bayt Stadium.

US artist Diplo, DJ Calvin Harris and Jamaican singer Sean Paul will also be performing at the FIFA Fan festival, which will run over the 29 days of the tournament.

Want to keep up with the latest news on day two of the World Cup in Qatar? Head over to our live blog now.

Today's action sees England face Iran, Senegal play the Netherlands and USMNT against Wales.

In an alternate reality, FIFA has decided to take unprecedented action to ensure the 2022 World Cup, the last before the tournament expands from 32 to 48 teams, features as many of the game’s stars as possible. To achieve this, they award each participating nation a 27th squad place that can only be filled in an American-style draft of active players who either did not qualify for this World Cup or did not get selected by a team that did qualify. For the duration of the tournament, national affiliations of the players drafted are temporarily irrelevant. The draft order is the reverse of the current FIFA world rankings.

Carl Anka is behind picks 1-5, Michael Bailey makes picks 6-10, Alexander Abnos has picks 11-15, Jeff Rueter handles 16-21, Raphael Honigstein selects 22-26, and Ajay Rose finishes it off with picks 27-32.

Ghana are likely to start Jordan Ayew in their front three for their opening group stage game. The Crystal Palace forward is hard working but hasn’t scored for his national team for over a calendar year. The Black Stars need goals, and Haaland is the best goal-scorer on the planet not already going to the tournament.

‘How have we not had a Caribbean team at the World Cup since 2006? It’s such a shame’

A lot of players with Caribbean heritage will be competing at this World Cup.

Three of the 26-strong England squad could have represented Jamaica alone; Raheem Sterling was born in Kingston, the country’s capital, before he moved to England at the age of five, while Callum Wilson and Kalvin Phillips both have family from there. In addition, Marcus Rashford’s grandmother, Cillian, was born in Saint Kitts and Nevis.

If you take a closer look at France’s squad, you will discover Raphael Varane has ties to Martinique and Kingsley Coman’s parents were born in Guadeloupe. France and Arsenal legend Thierry Henry, widely considered to be the Premier League’s greatest ever player, grew up in Paris, but his mother, Maryse, and father, Antoine, were from Martinique and Guadeloupe respectively.

When USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter unveiled the 26 players who will represent the United States at the 2022 World Cup, there were relatively few surprises.

Few, however, thought Haji Wright was still in serious contention to go to Qatar. Berhalter explained the selection by stating his preference to have a taller target forward in the mix in case the U.S. was chasing a goal late in a game. To that notion, it was essentially a pick between Jordan Pefok and Wright — and ultimately, the second-leading scorer in the Turkish Süper Lig won out on current form.

He may not be the headliner of the forward group that also includes Jesus Ferreira and Josh Sargent, but Wright’s World Cup nod is the culmination of a path which, while very unique compared to his flashier peers in the team, has served his development well.

But few U.S fans have access to watch the Süper Lig, as its rights-holder (beIN Sports) isn’t as accessible in this country, so what have we missed about his career arc and style of play?

Canada’s unlikely squad members on reaching the World Cup: ‘I can’t believe it’

When Canada play their first World Cup match in 36 years on Wednesday against Belgium, the eyes of the world will be drawn to the likes of Alphonso Davies and Jonathan David, recognised stars in the global game.

Yet those two represent only the tip of the iceberg in Canadian soccer development, with Qatar 2022 providing an opportunity for players young and old who may have never believed they’d ever play in a World Cup.

Miller isn’t alone. The Athletic spoke to some of the team’s unlikeliest players about their journeys to Qatar.

Qatar has waited 12 years for the World Cup – but day one did not go to plan

Fans being a little slow to return from their half-time libations is nothing new, and with the Al Bayt Stadium’s brand-new fridges packed with Bud Zero, who could blame them?

But as the clock ticked towards the hour mark, it became clear a good 10,000 Qatari fans in the crowd of 67,372 — the stadium’s capacity is listed by the organisers as 60,000 — had gone AWOL.

When this migration was pointed out on Twitter, some culturally-sensitive souls, perhaps inspired by the opening ceremony, suggested they might be praying. After all, the final call to prayer of the day had taken place during the tournament’s opening ceremony, so perhaps the fans were making up for missing that one.

Thankfully, The Athletic was sitting next to three friendly journalists from the host country, one of whom had already told us he had studied in Sunderland. He did not say what he studied and it did not seem fair to ask.

Ecuador played some fine football in today’s opening day victory over host nation Qatar — but their head coach Gustavo Alfaro wants to see even more from his team, who will likely need to beat either Senegal or the Netherlands to reach the knockout stage.

“The important thing is that we got the win,” said Alfaro. “We did what we needed to do to win this game.

“At the half (interval) I asked my players are they happy and they said, no that they can play better.

England will wait to see how they could be punished by FIFA before deciding whether or not to support the ‘OneLove’ anti-discrimination campaign at the World Cup in Qatar.

The captains of nine European countries, including England and Wales, had planned to wear the ‘OneLove’ rainbow armband in Qatar to promote diversity and inclusion.

On the eve of the World Cup, however, FIFA instead launched its own armband initiative. Captains have been asked to wear a different armband on each match day, promoting social messages such as “Football unites the world” and “Share the meal” in a United Nations-backed campaign.

Germany captain Manuel Neuer said he would continue to wear his ‘OneLove’ armband regardless, while Wales are also planning for Gareth Bale to wear the design against the United States. Harry Kane said on Sunday that England had “made it clear as a team and a staff and organisation that we want to wear the armband”.

But, just hours before England open their campaign with a match against Iran, the Football Association remains in the dark about whether Kane will be permitted by FIFA to wear the ‘OneLove’ captain’s armband and — if not — what the sanction for doing so will be.

A fine is something that England are prepared to accept for wearing the armband, but it has not yet been decided how the FA would proceed if it was threatened with sporting sanctions.

These sanctions could — according to FIFA’s rulebook — include Kane being shown an automatic yellow card should he take to the pitch wearing the multicoloured design instead of one of FIFA’s sanctioned armbands.

Earlier today, the USMNT announced that Tyler Adams would be captaining the side for the World Cup.

The 23-year-old made his debut for the United States senior men’s national team in 2017 and has been capped 32 times since his debut.

Head coach Gregg Berhalter said: “For the last three and a half years we’ve been working with the leadership council and we’re very open with them and we asked them, ‘Hey, what do you guys want to do for the World Cup?’

“And they thought it’d be better to have a captain named for the World Cup. We’re proud to announce Tyler as the captain for the World Cup. We think he has, you know, great leadership capabilities.

“He leads by his actions and his words, so we’re proud to have him as a captain.”

Adams has impressed since moving to Leeds United in the summer, where he joined fellow American Jesse Marsch — the head coach of the Elland Road side.

The United States are back at the World Cup. Tomorrow, against Wales, the USMNT will play their first game in the tournament since July 2014 in Brazil.

Eight-and-a-half years is a long time, but two World Cups on and Gregg Berhalter’s squad will want to quench the thirst of a nation in this unprecedented, controversial World Cup starting three days before Thanksgiving.

The aim will be to make it out of Group B — where they will also face England and Iran after Monday’s opener — and into the knockout stages. If not, the hope will be to deliver a credible effort that will bode well for the next World Cup in 2026, which the US will co-host with Canada and Mexico.

The Wales match will be the USMNT’s 750th international. Soccer has grown and is growing: from 1990 to 2014, America’s men reached seven consecutive World Cups and an indication of the game’s increased status domestically was that failure to reach the previous one, Russia 2018, was felt to be an embarrassment.

At the grassroots level, participation numbers have mushroomed; at international level, the success of the US women’s team was a popularizing force; in 2014, there were 43 professional clubs in the US men’s game; today, there are 77 playing across three tiers and a development league.

More and more, soccer is everywhere in the US. So, The Athletic has set about connecting all 50 states to this particular squad. We have included some of those who narrowly missed out on the final 26 through injury or selection. We think we have managed to do it.

Ecuador head coach Gustavo Alfaro has said Enner Valencia will be fit to face the Netherlands on Friday.

Valencia, who scored twice and was named Player of the Match, was replaced in the 77th minute of Ecuador’s win over Qatar in today's opening match.

The former West Ham United forward initially sustained a knock to the knee in the first half but managed to continue playing until the latter stages of the game.

There were initial concerns that Valencia may be set for a spell on the sidelines but Alfaro has said Ecuador’s star man will be available for his country’s next game.

“He was questioned at times in Ecuador, but now we can see all he gives us,” said Alfaro.

“Enner will play against the Netherlands (on Friday), there’s no doubt about that.”

“We knew it was going to be a tough game, however, we managed to get a good result quickly,” said Valencia.

“We managed to score a couple of quick goals which helped us to get control of the game and take the three points.

“I dreamt so many times about winning this opening match and it was a dream that I managed to score. We have to keep dreaming because it is only going to get tougher.”

Since 2006, the nation hosting the World Cup has played in the opening game of the tournament. Prior to that, the curtain raiser of each tournament featured the defending champions.

In the time since 2006, Qatar are the first hosts to lose the opening match of the World Cup:

Qatar's remaining matches will see them take on Senegal and the Netherlands. Those opponents, at least on paper, will pose even tougher challenges for them than Ecuador did today. The Qataris are facing the prospect of becoming the first hosts - not just since 2006, but all-time - to be eliminated at the group stage.

You might be confused about how offside and VARs work after today's match between Ecuador and Qatar (this live blogger was also scratching his head!). Or you might have felt you didn't know enough about both squads before the match began and want to be better prepared for tomorrow's round of fixtures. Or you might just want to know who is likely to play for the nation you're supporting.

Whatever your football-related query, The Athletic has got you covered.

A big talking point from the first matchday will likely be the fans (or lack of) in the Al Bayt Stadium.

I understand when supporters want to leave matches early to avoid any traffic but, for me, that thought is always trumped by the fear of not witnessing a stoppage-time winner.

Valencia struck twice in the first-half and set his nation up for a comfortable win that will give them real hope of advancing from Group A at this tournament. Very few people will have expected him to shine on this stage like he has, but the 33-year-old striker showed why he has had a career that has taken him to the top level.

The 2022 World Cup is the first-ever edition of the tournament in which the opening goal was scored from the penalty spot, as Valencia did in the 16th minute.

The result puts Ecuador top of Group A after the opening game. They will be keen to see how Netherlands vs Senegal pans out on Monday, because a win for either side will put them in a strong position going into their second game.

For Qatar, who are unlikely to beat either of those teams, this may end their hopes of getting a win at their first World Cup.

Ecuador face the Netherlands on Friday and then Senegal on the following Tuesday. Qatar play Senegal on Friday before taking on the Netherlands on the Tuesday.

Bizarrely, it was a moment that had no bearing on the outcome of the match.

Very few people would have — from a glance alone — ruled Valencia’s first goal out for offside. But the video assistant referee and semi-automated offside intervened and clarified that it should be disallowed.

Michael Estrada’s right boot was offside after the ball came off Felix Torres, who was challenging Qatar goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb.

Enner Valencia led the way for Ecuador as they defeated Qatar in the opening game of the 2022 World Cup.

The match began in controversial fashion, with Valencia having a goal ruled out for offside.

But it was only the focus for a few minutes, as the former West Ham United and Everton striker put that disappointment behind him. He found the back of the net twice more before half-time to put his side into a very comfortable position.

From there, Qatar were unable to recover — although Almoez Ali did miss a good opportunity to score that would have given his side a chance of coming back after the break.

Neither side looked particularly threatening in the second half, giving Ecuador an important three points to kick off the competition.

Morgan Freeman and Ciao but no Pitbull: The most uncomfortable World Cup opening ceremony ever

Who first came up with the concept of an opening ceremony to a sports tournament?

It’s so normalised now that we just accept it, that the first thing we’ll see of either a World Cup or Olympics or whatever is a souped-up performance art event with dancers and a famous-ish pop star singing a confected anthem.

It would now feel weird not to have one, like we’re missing out on something important somehow. Could we really enjoy a month of football without it being introduced to us by a rhythmic gymnastic demonstration and Jennifer Lopez?

It’s too late now, we’ve been brainwashed. Plus, they’re essentially harmless, aren’t they?

Well, possibly. The opening ceremony to the Qatar World Cup is the ultimate test of that theory, a short period of pageantry to open the most controversial World Cup since the last one.

Their team is winning and they'd like to celebrate with a few cervezas!

Sam Stejskal and Paul Tenorio have taken their best shot at predicting the starting XI Gregg Berhalter will go with in the US' opening match against Wales tomorrow.

Some players like Christian Pulisic are a given, but others spots are still a mystery.