Thousands of Qatar fans appear to leave World Cup opener at half-time

Thousands of Qatar fans appeared to leave at half-time of the opening game of the World Cup, with their team already down 2-0.

Hosts Qatar opened the 2022 edition of the tournament on Sunday (20 November) with a Group A match against Ecuador, who were controversially denied an early goal due to offside but took a 2-0 lead into the break anyway.

Ecuador captain Enner Valencia netted the disallowed opener before scoring from the penalty spot on 16 minutes then with a header on 31 minutes.

Thousands of Qatar fans then left the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor at half-time, with their seats remaining empty long after the second half had begun.

The Qatar World Cup – the first ever winter edition of the tournament – has already come under widespread criticism due to human-rights issues, such as thousands of reported migrant-worker deaths and the state’s attitudes and laws regarding homosexuality.

Qatar occupy Group A, as is traditional for a World Cup host nation, and they are joined in the pool by Ecuador, the Netherlands and Senegal.

Thousands of seats were left empty after half-time of Qatar’s World Cup opener against Ecuador (REUTERS)
Thousands of seats were left empty after half-time of Qatar’s World Cup opener against Ecuador (REUTERS)

Qatar next take to the pitch on Friday (25 November) as they face Senegal at the Al Thumama Stadium in Doha.

The hosts then finish their group-stage campaign against the Netherlands on Tuesday 29 November, with that game taking place at the Al Bayt Stadium, where Qatar played Ecuador.