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The Qatar World Cup kicks off with an extravagant ceremony

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By Euronews
Fans enjoyed a massive firework display at the Al Bayt Stadium in Qatar
Fans enjoyed a massive firework display at the Al Bayt Stadium in Qatar   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Francisco Seco

After a tortuous 12-year build-up dogged by off-field controversies, the first World Cup in the Middle East finally began on Sunday night with a flashy opening ceremony.

Thousands of fans packed the Al Bayt Stadium in the Qatari city of Al Khor. 

They were entertained by a lengthy firework display and performances from BTS band member, Jung Kook, and Hollywood star, Morgan Freeman.

Ahead of the opening game, Euronews spoke to English footballing legend Wayne Rooney at the Globe Soccer awards in Dubai. He had a clear message for the players.

“Enjoy it, I think it's a World Cup! It's a huge honour, whatever country you are representing, to play in a World Cup and the important thing is you enjoy it. I'm sure we're all in for a great spectacle.”

Despite high hopes, Qatar lost the tournament’s opening match 2-0 to Ecuador on Sunday. 

They will now face tough opponents in the form of Africa Cup of Nations champions, Senegal, and three-time finalists, the Netherlands.