Host Nation Suffers Loss As World Cup Begins In Qatar

(Photo by KARIM JAAFAR/AFP via Getty Images)

Melanie Wilcox Contributor
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Qatar lost to Ecuador 0-2 on Sunday in the inaugural match of the 2022 World Cup, making them the first host nation in the competition’s history to lose the opening game at home.

After Qatar goalkeeper Saad Abdullah Al Sheeb received a yellow card, Valencia scored the penalty kick, giving Ecuador a 1-0 lead at 15:47. Valencia scored his second goal of the match at from a header in the 31st minute.  The second half was uneventful, as Ecuador easily secured three points in Group A.

“The reaction of the crowd is what struck me the most,” ESPN sports journalist Gabriele Marcotti said. “By halftime, many were already filing out. By the end, the stadium was maybe a little bit more than a third full.” (RELATED: Qatar Reverses Course, Bans Alcohol Sales From Stadiums 2 Days Before World Cup Begins)

“This is a country of 150,000 people,” Marcotti added. “At least one-fifth of the population—a good 30,000 to 40,000 Qatari fans—were here tonight. They didn’t want to know anymore by the end.”

The empty seats had to be “disappointing” for the organizers, the Emir, and the Qatari government, Marcotti said.

“Qatar did everything they could to get this World Cup, and to compete in this World Cup,” Marcotti said, referencing the $220 billion the country spent, more than the last eight World Cups combined.

“They built these stadiums. They built the world-class Aspire Academy. They brought in talented kids from around the world. They brought in the best coaches money can buy. They prepared everything in detail.”

“And yet, there was one thing I think they couldn’t control. And that was going to be the reaction of the fans. And to me, that is a story tonight after seeing Qatar lose the opening game against Ecuador.”