The controversy surrounding the Gulf state’s treatment of foreign employees, LGBT+ rights, and social restrictions has hampered the tournament, whose opening ceremony yesterday featured a stirring address from Morgan Freeman.
Multiple celebrities, including Dua Lipa, Shakira, and Rod Stewart, declined invitations from tournament organizers to perform during the opening ceremony at Al-Bayt Stadium in Doha.
However, despite having an estimated personal wealth in the hundreds of millions, Freeman accepted the role, drawing the ire of outraged pundits who accused him of hypocrisy.
In the United States, the globally renowned actor has been a vocal civil rights activist, lending his voice to campaigns promoting gay marriage and launching foundations to promote equality in early childhood education, among others.
Numerous social media users questioned why Freeman, who famously represented anti-apartheid campaigner and defender of equality Nelson Mandela, would link himself with a tournament staged in a country where homosexuality is still a felony punishable by several years in prison.
For a man who portrayed Nelson Mandela, it is very distressing to watch Morgan Freeman defend an authoritarian dictatorship, remarked one Twitter user.
‘Morgan Freeman. Exactly why? Why would you accept the cash… Have more money than you can spend? Just harms his legacy,’ stated another.
Others, however, praised the message imparted by Freeman, who in his address spoke of togetherness and tolerance, complimenting his efforts to focus on bringing people together across cultures as opposed to concentrating on their differences.
Now, the globe feels more remote and divided than ever before. How can so many nations, languages, and cultures coexist if only one approach is accepted?
He stated, “What unites us at this time is so much more than what divides us.”
Everyone is invited.
Morgan Freeman will perform during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group A match between Qatar and Ecuador on November 20, 2022 at Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, Qatar.
US actor Morgan Freeman (L) and Qatari YouTuber Ghanim al-Muftah (R) talk during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group A opening ceremony.
Social media users vented their disgust with Freeman, wondering why he would take what is presumably a large quantity of money to perform at the opening ceremony of the World Cup in Qatar.
Qatari YouTuber Ghanim Al Muftah, born without the bottom half of his body, stars with Morgan Freeman in the World Cup opening ceremony.
Ghanim Al Muftah, a 20-year-old YouTuber from Qatar, appeared with Morgan Freeman at the World Cup opening ceremony.
Al Muftah is well-known for his motivational talks and social media presence. In 2018, at the age of 16, he spoke at TEDxQatarUniversity about his ailment, caudal regression syndrome.
The bottom half of the body, including the spine, limbs, bladder, intestines, and gut, can be affected by caudal regression syndrome (CRS).
The bones in the lower spine might be faulty or absent, and spinal abnormalities frequently impact the chest, making it harder to breathe.
This year, Mr. Al Muftah, who was born in Qatar, was selected as one of the official FIFA World Cup Ambassadors.
The Loughborough University politics student stated in a statement, “In my capacity as a FIFA World Cup ambassador, I wish to convey a message of optimism, inclusion, peace, and humanity’s oneness.”
Freeman’s unexpected presence in Doha occurred 12 years after he botched his lines while attempting to aid the United States’ campaign to host the 2022 World Cup.
On social media, supporters referred to him as a “Qatari sleeper agent,” recalling his memorable speech in 2010, in which he caused the United States’ bid team immense discomfort by messing up his speech and told the audience, “I’m sorry, I skipped a page.”
Social media users criticized the celebrity’s decision to perform for what is undoubtedly a substantial sum of money.
One stated, “Money speaks,” while another stated, “Sportswashing is pervasive.”
One person added the following: @morganfreeman Very disheartened; some individuals would do anything for money.
Someone another wrote, “Morgan Freeman should be embarrassed.” How much do you get paid? What is your level of integrity? Never raise your voice when discussing minorities. You have just lost that right.
Freeman was accused of receiving ‘blood money’ and labeled a’sellout’ in stronger statements.
In 2010, Freeman traveled to Zurich as part of the U.S. bid team alongside former President Bill Clinton in an effort to help the United States win the 2022 World Cup hosting rights against Qatar.
But his performance was weak and he stumbled over his lines in the middle of the play, destroying the United States’ claim to hosting rights.
Roger Bennett, host of Men In Blazers, wrote on Twitter that Freeman’s participation in Qatar was “epic trolling on a worldwide scale.”
Unknown at this time is how much Freeman was compensated for his involvement in the opening ceremony.
DailyMail.com has reached out to Freeman’s agents for comment.
In a piece dubbed ‘The Calling,’ he told followers, ‘We are all gathered here as one large tribe.’
Numerous social media users criticized Freeman’s choice to perform at the Qatar opening ceremony.
Back in 2010, Freeman botched his speech in Zurich while attempting to support the United States’ bid.
Fans deemed the Oscar-winning actor a “sellout” following his Sunday appearance in Qatar.
David Beckham was also criticized after he was photographed attending the opening game of the World Cup amidst controversy over his rumored £10 million commercial agreement with the tournament’s organizers.
During the tournament’s opening ceremony at the Al Bayt stadium in the Qatari capital, the former England captain was photographed in the stands.
Beckham’s presence coincided with comedian Joe Lycett livestreaming himself’shredding £10,000′ for charity, after the player failed to back out of his lucrative World Cup sponsorship agreement.
Mr. Lycett, age 34, has freely discussed his sexual orientation and pushed for LGBTQ+ rights.
Beckham was given an ultimatum by the comedian after it was revealed that he had signed a £10 million contract with the FIFA World Cup hosts despite the country’s extremely questionable human rights record.
Homosexuality is still prohibited in the Gulf state, and anybody caught engaging in same-sex sexual behavior faces up to seven years in jail.
David Beckham, ambassador of Qatar, prior to the Group A match at Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor.
David Beckham observes Qatar vs. Ecuador, FIFA World Cup 2022, Group A, Football, Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor, Qatar – 20 November 2022 from an executive box.
Despite controversy surrounding his estimated £10 million commercial agreement with the tournament organizers, Beckham attended the opening match in Doha.
The livestream, which was carried on Mr. Lycett’s website called benderslikeBeckham, had a woodchipper in the backdrop and what seemed to be two stacks of money in front of it.
A supposedly sad Mr. Lycett then entered the scene wearing a rainbow-colored blazer and fed each bundle of paper into the shredder before smiling for the camera and exiting the frame.
Following the broadcast, he tweeted the footage with the message, “A platform for advancement.”
Mr. Lycett, a comedian from Birmingham, revealed the deadline in a social media video message last week, in which he offered to contribute £10,000 of his own money to LGBTQ+ charity if Beckham terminated the sponsorship before the tournament began.
Mr. Lycett stated that despite Beckham’s past support for homosexual rights, he has reportedly signed a £10 million contract with ‘one of the worst places to be gay.’