Ecuador and Qatar will make history in tomorrow’s 2022 World Cup opening match

Nov 19, 2022 | 11 comments

Hundreds of thousands of Ecuadorians will pack into bars and restaurants Sunday morning as Ecuador takes on Qatar in the opening match of the 2022 World Cup. Millions more will be watching at home.

Beyond its importance to fans, the match has significance for other reasons. It is the first time Qatar, which is hosting the event, has appeared in a World Cup. It will also mark, by far, the largest audience ever to watch the Ecuadorian football team since the game is Sunday’s only competition. Viewership estimates for the 11 a.m. kickoff range as high as 800 million.

Ecuador fans will pack bars and restaurants for the 11 a.m. Sunday morning World Cup kickoff against Qatar.

Most notable, however, the game will draw a larger than usual audience due to the controversy surrounding Qatar’s hosting of the world’s premiere sporting event. Beyond unproven claims that Qatar bribed International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) officials to acquire World Cup rights, the country has been criticized for human rights violations, including mistreatment of foreign workers, restrictions of women’s rights and criminalization of homosexuality. In Europe, a boycott effort has been mounted urging fans not to travel to Qatar and not to watch televised games.

A smaller controversy emerged Thursday when a report circulated that Ecuadorian players had been bribed to lose the match. No evidence has been presented to support the claim and Ecuador team officials say protocols for monitoring players make bribery almost impossible.

Football analysts and gambling house odds-makers give Ecuador the edge in the match-up, but only slightly. Although experts say the team boasts one of the best defenses in the world, its offense has been anemic.

In six friendly matches leading up the World Cub, Ecuador has not allowed a goal against Nigeria, Cape Verde, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Japan and Iraq. Although it defeated Nigeria and Cape Verde 1-0, the four other matches ended in scoreless draws although Ecuador dominated time of possession. Ecuador is ranked 44th among national teams while Qatar is 50th.

In stark contrast to anti-alcohol rules at Qatar’s Al Bayt Stadium, the beer and booze will flow freely in Ecuador Sunday morning. In a last-minute decision that has incited more condemnation of FIFA, Qatar decided to ban beer sales at the stadium during the game.


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The Cuenca Dispatch

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