Morgan Freeman performs at World Cup opening ceremony, fans surprised by his appearance
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Morgan Freeman, the American actor, director and narrator, played a leading role in the 2022 World Cup opening ceremony in Al Khor.
The 85-year-old delivered a memorable speech alongside Qatari entrepreneur Ghanim al Muftah, a FIFA World Cup ambassador who was born with Caudal Regression Syndrome – a rare disorder which impairs the development of the lower spine.
“I heard something beautiful. Not just music, but also this call to celebration,” Freeman began. He later addressed those inside the 60,000 capacity Al Bayt Stadium, saying: "Football united nations and their love for the beautiful game. What brings together nations also brings together communities.”
You can watch the full opening segment with Freeman and Al Muftah below.
Morgan Freeman understood the assignment.pic.twitter.com/XI3WYMq1SQ— Gary Al-Smith (@garyalsmith) November 20, 2022
Freeman continued: “Now, the world feels even more distant and divided. How can so many countries, languages and cultures come together, if only one way is accepted?”
Al Muftah replied: “We were raised to believe that we were scattered on this earth as nations, as tribes, so we could learn from each other and find beauty in the differences."
Freeman spoke again. “I can see it, for what unites us here in this moment is so much greater than what divides us," he said. "How can we make it last for more than just today?”
“With tolerance and respect, we can live together under one big home," Al Muftah replied. "When we call you here, we welcome you into our home."
“So we gather here as one big tribe, and Earth is the tent we all live in,” Freeman said.
Al Muftah commented: “Yes, and together we can send out the call for all the world to join us."
Away from Freeman's appearance at the opening ceremony and Gary Lineker opened BBC's coverage of this winter's World Cup in Qatar with a monologue – and he didn't hold back.
"Ever since FIFA chose Qatar back in 2010, the smallest nation to have hosted football's greatest competition has faced some big questions," Lineker said.
"From accusations of corruption in the bidding process to the treatment of migrant workers who built the stadiums, where many lost their lives. Homosexuality is illegal here. Women's rights and freedom of expression are in the spotlight. Also the decision six years ago to switch the World Cup from summer to winter.
"Against that backdrop, there's a tournament to be played. One that will be watched and enjoyed around the world.
"Stick to football say FIFA. Well, we will, for a couple of minutes at least."
Thoughts on Freeman's appearances in Qatar on Sunday afternoon? What are your thoughts on this winter's World Cup?
Let us know in the comments.