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Morgan Freeman slammed for opening FIFA World Cup ceremony in Qatar

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Morgan Freeman is under fire for playing at the opening ceremony of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

The 85-year-old actor kicked off the opening ceremony of the football competition on Sunday November 20 by narrating the opening segment The call at Al-Bayt Stadium in Doha.

He told the crowd, “We gather here as one great tribe and the Earth is the tent in which we all live.”

This World Cup is described as controversial due to its host country, Qatar, and concerns over human rights abuses there.

For example, the plight of migrant workers who have helped build Qatar’s infrastructure has been frequently highlighted during the build-up to this tournament.

Complaints have also been filed by LGBTQ+ communities. Kick It Out’s Qatar task force says despite repeated requests, no adequate assurances on safety have been given and LGBTQ+ fans have largely stayed away from a country that criminalizes same-sex relations .

Other LGBTQ+ groups have said they are staying away to protect the community in Qatar, which Human Rights Watch says is being targeted by authorities — something the government strongly denies.

Many celebrities such as Dua Lipa and Shakira refused to perform at this year’s tournament to show their support against human rights abuses in Qatar.

For the same reasons, Freeman’s appearance at the opening ceremony in the Middle Eastern nation was criticized by many on social media.

“For a man who played Nelson Mandela – who knew better than anyone the impact and importance of isolation on a country and his success on the ground in changing the politics of that nation – it’s so disappointing to see # MorganFreeman take the money and support an oppressive regime,” one person wrote on Twitter.

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Another person added: “@morganfreeman very disappointed some people will do anything for money. I won’t be watching #shawshankredemption anymore.

One person wrote: “Morgan Freeman should be ashamed. How much do they pay you? How high is your integrity? Never raise your voice to talk about minorities. You have just lost this privilege.

Almost 12 years have passed since a largely disgraced Fifa executive committee stunned the world by awarding Qatar those finals.

Around £200billion is said to have been spent preparing the country for this moment. The human cost, say advocacy groups, is incalculably higher.

Until the opening day, the finals featured controversial moments.

That opener was due to be played on November 21 but was moved only a few months ago to allow the hosts’ game against Ecuador to be isolated.

Even this week, questions have been raised about the power of this tournament after Fifa sponsors Budweiser were banned from selling beer within the stadium grounds.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino, who insists he is “200%” in control of these finals, launched an extraordinary defense of Qatar on Saturday (November 19th), accusing Europe of hypocrisy for its criticism of the Middle Eastern state.

According to him, the soft power of football can accelerate change and he has done so in Qatar, indicating that it is entirely possible that countries with a human rights record similar to those in Qatar can host a World Cup in the future.

Human rights criteria can and will be applied, but they will only be one factor to be considered by FIFA’s 211 member associations, with Saudi Arabia set to be co-hosts in 2030.

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By Peter Kavinsky

Peter Kavinsky is the Executive Editor at cablefreetv.org