The Lusail Stadium was lighted up at its pretentious best on a nice Friday night, and the AFC Asian Cup opened with a magnificent dramatization of the Arabian folk story, Kelilah and Demnah.
Palestine united everyone as hundreds of people poured into the stadium, some carrying their children on their shoulders and others cheering for their teams with local melodies.
Supporters who wore Palestinian flags across their backs or carried small paper flags to wave around the stadium throughout the game demonstrated their sympathy with the Arab people that is suffering much due to Israel‘s ongoing war.
More and more Palestinian civilians perishing per day than in any previous major war of the twenty-first century, according to Oxfam. It occurs at a pace of 250 bodies per day.
Before the game, Farooq, a 35-year-old building worker, was one of hundreds of people who expressed solidarity. He saw his chance to secure a seat inside the great stadium for the opening match go, so he stood with a few pals from Bangladesh, hoping for someone to provide tickets.
Qatar was fully aligned with Palestine during the recent months. And in front of nearly 50,000 spectators during the inaugural ceremony, it elevated that posture even more.
Hassan Al-Haydos, Qatar national team captain, who guided the squad to the AFC Asian Cup success in 2019, was due to take the oath of Asian Cup, according to the protocols. Rather, he handed the microphone to Musab Al-Battat, the captain of Palestine, who finished the oath. The event concluded with a portion of the national song of Palestine.
At that moment, love and fraternity were given more importance than football. Prior to the FIFA World Cup 2022, International Football Federation (FIFA) head Gianni Infantino had advocated for “letting football take the stage.”
Qatar Starts Strongly
The centerpiece of the nation’s largest football stadium was ringed by a ring of colorful pyrotechnics, a lavish opening ceremony set the mood. The host team emerged from the opening game comfortably ahead of their regional rivals, Lebanon.
Indeed, supporters of both clubs were vocal before start and continued to do so until the completion of the first half by waving flags and singing. However, the majority of the audience started heading out as soon as Qatar’s advantage doubled, which happened 11 minutes into the second half.
The Al Annabi (the Maroons) got off to a winning start, much to the satisfaction of the home crowd, who had been waiting impatiently for their national team to demonstrate a hint of their championship run from 2019.