The call to tradition at the opening ceremony of the World Cup in Qatar

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The call to tradition at the opening ceremony of the World Cup in Qatar

An impatient roar swept through the Al Bayt Stadium at 3:42 p.m. (French time) when the “zero” of the countdown appeared on the giant screens of the Al_Bayt Stadium, twelve years after the controversial obtaining of the organization of the Cup of the world by the small emirate.

Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani had just taken his place in the presidential gallery, between FIFA President Gianni Infantino and his father, Hamad, who had arrived with a cane and kissed his hand. We could not miss, either, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed ben Salmane (known as MBS), seated to the left of Infantino. A desired image of union for the Gulf region after the crisis which shook the region between June 2017 and January 2021, when the Saudi regime had diplomatically banished its little neighbor during a blockade.

Because it is the objective repeated for years by Qatar, despite the long parenthesis of this estrangement of three and a half years. This first World Cup in history in the Middle East is not only for the wealthy little emirate, which has established itself on the map thanks to sport, but also for the Arab world.

“We are gathered here as a great tribe and the world is our tent”

He was obviously in the spotlight during this opening ceremony, which began with dreamlike images of desert men, before the appearance of African-American actor Morgan Freeman, as master of ceremonies. The idea was in the symbolism of the Al-Bayt stadium, with the design of a traditional Bedouin tent. “We are gathered here as a great tribe and the world is our tent”, wanted to sum up Morgan Freeman.

Basically, the first part of this half-hour show, which was ultimately expected to be more extravagant, was a tribute to local culture, with the Qatari singer Dana. The second part was more international and especially Asian, with the expected appearance on stage of a huge star – well, it depends for whom, it’s always a story of generations: Jungkook, the singer of the Korean pop group BTS. And then the organizers had the brilliant idea of ​​bringing together all the previous World Cup mascots since 1966.

The return of Footix

Which allowed us to see Footix again, with some emotion. The soundtrack also honored the famous “fans”, a term put to all sauces during this World Cup, since the songs of the supporters of the 32 qualified countries were declaimed. Super 8 videos of old football matches played on sandy pitches concluded the ceremony. A way of saying that this micro-state, a former British protectorate, independent since 1971, is also a land of football.

The smile of the Al-Thani family, father and son together, returned to the screen in close-up, at the end of the ceremony. The Emir Tamim took the floor in Arabic, to send a message of “welcome” which he repeated in a few words of English, at the end of his speech. Serious things could begin.

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