Welsh fans will be breathing a sigh of relief tonight after their team roared back to draw 1-1 against the USA in their first World Cup match for more than 60 years.
Despite being cheered on by a vociferous army of travelling fans in Qatar, the Welsh fell behind against the Yanks after a first half dominated by the team from across the Atlantic.
A goal by winger Timothy Weah in the 36th minute after he was put clear by Chelsea star Christian Pulisic separates the sides at half-time, and gives Wales a hill to climb in the second half.
In Wales fans watching the game on big screens in places such as Cardiff and Swansea held their heads in their hands as their team conceded, while there was jubilation among US supporters.
But they roared back in the second half, and drew level through their captain and talisman Gareth Bale after he dispatched a penalty in the 82nd minute.
There were scenes of mayhem in the Welsh supporters section at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan as their team set up a nail-biting finale.
The full throttle match kept going right to the final whistle, but no side was able to find the breakthrough in the closing stages, meaning they had to share the spoils.
It leaves both teams on one point in Group B and with ground to make up on England, who thrashed Iran 6-2 earlier today to take control of the group.
Thousands of Wales fans have travelled to the Middle East to show their support for the team managed by Rob Page and led by talismanic captain Gareth Bale, while the US will be hoping to make up for failing to qualify for the last tournament in Russia in 2018.
The vociferous Welsh fans will be hoping their team can perform a repeat of their Euro 2016 heroics, where they surprised many to make it to the semi-finals of the tournament.
The team is being captained by Gareth Bale, who donned an armband with the words ‘No Discrimination’ on it. England captain Harry Kane also wore the FIFA-approved armband after speculation the pair and other captains would wear armbands with the words ‘One Love’, seen as a rebuke of Qatar’s human rights record and its treatment of the LGBT+ community.
Wales captain Gareth Bale celebrates after scoring a penalty to bring his team level against the USA tonight
The Wales team celebrates the equalising goal against the United States of America at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium
Gareth Bale runs away to celebrate drawing his team level against the United States tonight
A Welsh fan at the Vale Sports Arena in Cardiff celebrates as Gareth Bale brings his team level against the USA
Supporters of Wales at the FIFA Fan Festival in Al Bidda Park, Doha, react during the nail-biting game
Wales supporters at the 4TheFans Fan Park at the Tramshed in Cardiff celebrate after the Dragons equalise against the USA
Timothy Weah of the United States wheels away in celebration after putting his team 1-0 up against Wales
Timothy Weah pokes the ball past Wayne Hennessey in the Welsh goal as his side takes a 1-0 lead
A Wales fan holds his head in his hands at the Vale Sports Arena in Cardiff after his side concedes against the United States
Wales fans look glum at the Vale Sports Arena in Cardiff after their side goes 1-0 down to the USA in their opening match of the World Cup
A Wales fan with holds his head in his hands at the Vale Sports Centre in Cardiff after Timothy Weah puts the United States 1-0 up in Qatar
Unites States goalkeeper Matt Turner challenges Wales captain Gareth Bale for the ball during the opening match between the two teams tonight
Wales defender Ben Davies leaps as he heads the ball towards the United States goal in their opening game of the World Cup
Kieffer Moore rises highest as he tries to head the ball towards goal against the United States
The USA’s Timothy Weah celebrates scoring against Wales in his country’s opening match of the World Cup
Gareth Bale challenges for the ball with the United States’ Tim Ream during the match tonight
Wales’s Neco Williams faces up against the US’s Sergino Dest in the opening stages of the match
Gareth Bale looks on as his teammate Harry Wilson controls the ball during Wales’s match against the USA
Wales’s Neco Williams challenges USA’s Weston McKennie for the ball during the match
The USA’s Christian Pulisic tries to get away from Gareth Bale with the ball during the match
Referee Abdulrahman Al-Jassim books the United States’ Weston McKennie
Wales defender Chris Mepham heads the ball clear from a Unites States corner during the match
Wales captain Gareth Bale looks dejected after the United States take the lead in their opening match of the World Cup
Wales manager Rob Page holds his head in his hands as his side trail the United States 1-0
A Wales supporter in the 4TheFans Fan Park at the Tramshed in Cardiff can barely stand to look as his team tries to come back from 1-0 down to the USA
Wales fans at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium show their support for their country as they face the United States of America tonight
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken watches his country’s team face off against Wales in the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium tonight
The Welsh side poses for a team photo before kick-off against the United States
USA fans in Dupont Circle, Washington DC, react as their team takes the lead against Wales in their opening match of the World Cup
Wales fans look tense as they watch their team play the United States from Elevens, a bar owned by Gareth Bale in Cardiff
Wales fans in the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium look downcast after their team concedes to the United States
Wales fans sat in their seats ahead of the match between the Dragons and the USA
Wales fans hold up a flag ahead of the match against the United States of America this evening
Wales fans chant in the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan this evening
Two Wales fans dressed in local garb pose for the camera before the match with the USA
Eager Wales fans wait for kick-off before their country’s opening match against the United States
Fans of the United States gather in the stands before the game
A USA fan, presumably from Texas, looks on before tonight’s match between the Yanks and Wales
Two United States fans dressed in patriotic gear, with one holding a replica World Cup trophy, smile before the match
On the pitch the Dragons were tamed by a relentless United States team in the first half, as the Yanks took control of the midfield.
In the 36th minutes the ball broke to Chelsea attacker Christian Pulisic who charged forward towards the centre of the Welsh defence.
He then slipped the ball through to winger Timothy Weah, son of African footballing legend George Weah, who kept his calm to poke the ball past Wayne Hennessey in the Wales goal.
The second half has seen a resurgence by the Welsh as they put the US penalty area under sustained pressure, forcing multiple saves out of American goalkeeper Matt Turner.
They face stiff competition to make it out of Group B, which as well as containing the Yanks, holds England and Iran. The English saw off the Iranians with a comfortable 6-2 victory earlier today.
The lead up to that game was beset with ticketing issues, as thousands were left stranded outside the stadium after a glitch in FIFA’s official ticketing app.
That match saw many fans left stranded outside after their tickets disappeared from the FIFA app on their mobile phones, prompting fury among those affected. There are reports that Welsh fans queuing ahead of tonight’s game were also affected.
Thousands of fans wanting to get into the England match queued in the searing heat as they stared at their mobile phones wondering why their electronic tickets had disappeared.
‘We’ve come all the way to Qatar to watch a couple of England games,’ one fan said, speaking to the BBC. ‘We had our tickets sorted, we paid £150 for each ticket – £800 for the flights. The tickets disappeared.’
The fan said he had arrived at the ground around three hours early, but was still delayed, while a second fan told the broadcaster that the fans had not been communicated with.
‘Nobody’s telling us anything,’ he said. ‘There’s no announcement. People are saying you can get in if you’ve got a Hayya card. But there’s no official announcement. Here we are, the greatest football show on earth. Brilliant,’ he said sarcastically.
In a statement FIFA later said: ‘Some spectators are currently experiencing an issue accessing their tickets via the FIFA Ticketing app. FIFA is working on solving the issue.
‘In the meantime, fans who are not able to access their mobile tickets should check the email accounts they used to register with the Ticketing app for further instructions.
‘In case fans cannot access their email accounts, the stadium’s Ticket Resolution Point will be able to support. We thank fans for their understanding as we work to fix the issue as soon as possible.’
England fans received an email from FIFA which contained a QR code to eventually allow them to enter the stadium to watch their team take on Iran.
The match later got underway on time and with no further problems, with the game itself seeing the Three Lions thrash the Iranians 6-2 to take a commanding lead at the top of the Group B table.
England fans endured chaotic scenes outside the Khalifa stadium after their tickets disappeared from the FIFA app on their mobile phones. Pictured: England fans arrive at the stadium prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between England and IR Iran at Khalifa International Stadium on November 21
Pictured: Fans of England cheer as they arrive for the FIFA World Cup 2022 group B soccer match between England and Iran at Khalifa International Stadium in Doha today
Three Lions’ best EVER World Cup start: Wonderkid Bukayo Saka scores twice and Jude Bellingham, Raheem Sterling and Jack Grealish strike in England’s 6-2 demolition of Iran – with goals from Saka and Marcus Rashford healing scars of Euro 2020
England have demolished Iran 6-2 in their opening match of the Qatar World Cup today – their strongest ever start to a major tournament on a record-breaking afternoon for the Three Lions.
Gareth Southgate’s wonderkids Jude Bellingham and Bukayo Saka scored three goals at the Khalifa Stadium in Doha. Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford and Jack Grealish grabbed the other three in a superb performance.
The rout began when Birmingham-born Borussia Dortmund wonderkid Bellingham, 19, sent thousands of fans in the stadium wild – and millions at home – as he rose to nod home after a cross from Manchester United’s Luke Shaw. He made history with the header as he became the second teenager in history to score in a World Cup for England, after Michael Owen against Argentina in 1998.
Minutes later Saka, 21, smashed home a left foot shot off the crossbar. And then Sterling, 27, blasted in a volley following a cross from captain Harry Kane, effectively winning the game before half time.
In the second half Saka then grabbed a fourth goal – his second – with an hour on the clock, passing it into the net after a mazy run. He became the youngest England player to score two at a World Cup.
Gareth Southgate’s side would not be able to boast a clean sheet however, Iran striker Mehdi Taremi pegged back England with a fierce strike past Pickford.
Marcus Rashford scored and restored a four goal advantage to make it 5-1. Jack Grealish then made it 6-1 with a minute to go, doing ‘the worm’ as a celebration after a promise to a 11-year-old Manchester City fan with cerebral palsy. Jack’s sister also has the condition.
Pickford made a superb stop from Sardar Azmoun in the latter stages of 10 minutes of injury time before Iran were awarded a penalty after a VAR check. John Stones was adjudged to have pulled the shirt of Taremi, who then sent Pickford the wrong way to reduce the arrears to 6-2 with the last kick of the game.
The Three Lions could have had at least eight goals. They were denied a clear penalty just three minutes into the game, when Harry Maguire was clearly dragged down in the box. Maguire later headed against the crossbar.
Thousands of Three Lions supporters were in the stadium including the WAGs of the players and David Beckham while millions are watching at home, work or in pubs with high streets across the UK deserted as people settled down for the 1pm match. There were wild scenes at pubs and fanparks across the UK as England thrashed the Iranians.
But the game was overshadowed by the row with FIFA over Harry Kane’s proposed rainbow armband and ticket woes for fans trying to get into the stadium after the Qatar 2022 app failed.
Jack Grealish made it 6-1 against Iran with a minute to go, doing ‘the worm’ as a celebration after a promise to a 11-year-old Manchester City fan with cerebral palsy. England would win 6-2
Jude Bellingham of England celebrates with Mason Mount after scoring their team’s first goal as the Three Lions dominated Iran
1-0: Jude Bellingham nods home England’s first goal against Iran
2-0: Arsenal starlet Bukayo Saka then smashed home a shot off the crossbar
3-0: Raheem Sterling then hammered home a volley at the start of 14 minutes of stoppage time
4-0: Saka then grabbed a fourth with an hour on the clock, passing it into the net after a mazy run
4-1: Iran’s Mehdi Taremi scores his side’s opening goal during the World Cup group B match, blasting past Pictkford
England fans at Boxpark in Croydon, London, celebrate after the Three Lions go three goals up before half-time
Fans at Boxpark in Croydon throw beer in the air as England score their first goal against Iran earlier today
England fans at Newcastle’s Central Park celebrate after the Three Lions score a goal against Iran earlier today
England players James Maddison, Marcus Rashford and Jack Grealish relax with family and friends after the Three Lions’ 6-2 victory over Iran today
5-1: Marcus Rashford calmly slots into the net
6-1: Jack Grealish of England scores their team’s sixth goal. Iran would score a penalty with the last kick of the game
David Beckham was seen clapping politely as England took control of the match
Rebecca Cooke, girlfriend of England’s Phil Foden, with son Ronnie Foden in the stands before the FIFA World Cup Group B match
England soccer fans celebrate a goal as they watch on a large screen the World Cup Group B soccer match between England and Iran at a fan zone in London
England fans cheer at BOXPARK Croydon as they watch a live broadcast of England’s opening group-round match versus Iran
England fans celebrate their side’s second goal at the 4TheFans Fan Park at Love Factory, Manchester
Iran fans in the stands hold up an Iran flag reading ‘Woman Life Freedom’. The players refused to sing the national anthem
Raheem Sterling and Bukayo Saka of England celebrate following the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between England and IR Iran at Khalifa International Stadium
England’s Bukayo Saka celebrates after scoring his side’s second goal during the World Cup group B soccer match between England and Iran at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar
England took the knee as they started their first World Cup campaign against Iran in one of the most politically-charged matches in English football history after a row over wearing a rainbow captain’s armband for Harry Kane, which was dropped after pressure from FIFA.
Kane looked serious as he led the team on to the pitch. The England captain did not wear the ‘OneLove’ rainbow armband after the threat of a yellow card proved too much of a risk for the FA. Alan Shearer said today that Kane had been put in an impossible position ahead of one of the biggest games of his career, but added that he would probably have worn the armband himself.
Kane was wearing the official FIFA ‘No Discrimination’ armband, having removed his England jacket following the national anthems. Loud whistles greeted the Iranian anthem, with the whole Iran team opting not to sing.
The entire England team then took the knee and Harry Kane appeared to raise his fist – but the Iranians did not take part.
Before the goals rained in, England fans were furious by the failure to award the Three Lions a penalty just three minutes into their World Cup opener.
England had an early corner which was taken by Kieran Trippier and Harry Maguire appeared to be dragged down by Iranian defender Roozbeh Cheshmi.
Shortly afterwards the match was stopped for 10 minutes after a head injury to Iran’s goalkeeper, who was replaced. Maguire then hit the crossbar with a header as England dominated.
Bellingham would go one better shortly afterwards, the Borussia Dortmund midfielder looping a header home from Luke Shaw’s cross to break the deadlock 10 minutes before the interval.
Saka would double the lead before the break, thrashing home a fine volley from a Maguire header down to banish his penalty miss of last summer.
With the fourth official signalling 14 minutes of added time, England grabbed their third through Raheem Sterling, who finished Kane’s cross after some great build-up from Southgate’s side.
England grabbed their fourth as Saka scored his second of the game, cutting in from the right to curl home.
Southgate’s side would not be able to boast a clean sheet however, Porto striker Mehdi Taremi pulling one back for Iran with a fierce strike past Pickford.
Maguire was forced off in the immediate aftermath of the goal as Eric Dier came on, while Saka, Sterling and Mount were replaced by Marcus Rashford, Jack Grealish and Phil Foden.
Rashford, who like Saka was racially abused after missing from the spot against Italy, had not featured for England since that night but he needed just seconds to make it 5-1 with a cool finish.
Two more of Southgate’s substitutes combined for a late sixth as Wilson ran onto a Bellingham through-ball before unselfishly crossing for Grealish for just his second England goal.
Pickford made a superb stop from Sardar Azmoun in the latter stages of 10 minutes of injury time before Iran were awarded a penalty after a VAR check.
John Stones was adjudged to have pulled the shirt of Taremi, who then sent Pickford the wrong way to reduce the arrears to 6-2 with the last kick of the game.
Fans erupted in cheers of joy as the final whistle sealed an England victory in their first World Cup game.
Leon Saraphim, 37, and Clinton Campbell, 35, both from London were among hundreds of Three Lions supporters to roar.
Leon said: ‘What a fantastic start to our World Cup campaign. Let’s bring it home.’
Clinton added: ‘It was a great start. We did let them [Iran] get two back but it doesn’t take away from a great win.’
Bellingham salutes the crowd after opening the scoring
England players swamp Bukayo Saka as he celebrates scoring their second goal with teammates
Raheem Sterling (C) celebrates with teammates after he scored during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group B football match between England and Iran at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha
England’s Bukayo Saka , second right, celebrates with teammates after scoring his side’s fourth goal – his second of the match
Marcus Rashford of England celebrates with teammates after scoring their team’s fifth goal
Jack Grealish celebrates with Phil Foden of England after scoring their team’s sixth goal
England fans show off their three lions insignia as they leave the pub after watching the broadcast of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 group B soccer match between England and Iran in London
Jack Grealish of England celebrates after their side’s victory during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between England and IR Iran at Khalifa International Stadium
Phil Foden of England celebrates after their side’s victory during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between England and IR Iran at Khalifa International Stadium
Jack Grealish sits with his girfriend Sasha Attwood after England’s 6-2 victory over Iran at the World Cup earlier today
Mason Mount celebrates England’s victory over Iran with friends and family in the stands after the game
Iran goalkeeper Hossein Hosseini shakes hands with manager Carlos Queiroz before taking over form injured team-mate Alireza Beiranvand during the FIFA World Cup Group B match at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar
England’s head coach Gareth Southgate claps hands after the World Cup group B soccer match between England and Iran at the Khalifa International Stadium
The 750-capacity crowd at the Box Park Shoreditch clapped when double-goal scorer Bukayo Saka was substituted in the second half.
A huge cheer echoed around the Outernet venue in central London at the final whistle.
Fans streamed away from the Budweiser sponsored event deliriously happy with the 6-2 victory.
‘What a start to our World Cup, said Ed Wegston.
‘It could not have been better and zi can’t wait until we play the USA and Wales.
‘They will be harder, but scoring six has set down a market’
Celebrations inside the underground venue began before the final whistle.
A group of about 40 among them packed crowd ran through the songbook of England chants usually heard at Wembley Stadium and overseas venues.
While pints of beer were readily available throughout the match there was no trouble as security guards kept a close watch on boisterous crowd.
Stephen Brown.25, from Battersea, south London, said’ Iran are hardly the best team in the tournament, but it’s great to score six.
‘England looked really composed and other teams will fear us now’.
Thousands of England fans have descended on Qatar and have managed to sniff out £12 pints ahead of the team’s first match of the World Cup today – but some told MailOnline their trips have cost £50,000 and criticised the lack of atmosphere in Doha before the big game.
Supporters packed out hotels, sports bars and Irish pubs before heading to the Khalifa Stadium for the 1pm kick off UK time where booze has been banned by the Gulf state’s Emir at the 11th hour.
But they endured chaotic scenes outside the Khalifa stadium after their tickets disappeared from the FIFA app on their mobile phones.
Thousands of fans queued in the searing heat as they stared at their mobile phones wondering why their electronic tickets had disappeared.
England fans then received an email from FIFA which contained a QR code to allow them to enter the stadium.
Most tickets for games at the tournament are electronic. Angry fans labelled FIFA a farce claiming that the technical glitch had spoiled their fun of the pre-match build up.
Sanjay Puri, 36 from Birmingham fumed: ‘It’s a joke. You would have thought that FIFA would have their IT in order. How has something like this happened?’
Paul Sims, 40 who had travelled from Dubai said: ‘I was outside the stadium and about to use my electronic ticket but then a message appeared saying it wasn’t working. Luckily I got an email with a QR code but I had to wait more than an hour to get in.’
Further chaos resulted from stadium security that every is scanned along with fan identity cards to ensure it belongs to the right person.
Security also confiscated items like sun cream, sweets and snacks further causing delays and annoying fans.
England fans started knocking back the pints on the morning of today’s World Cup game and mocked the tournament alcohol ban by singing: ‘We’ve got all the booze in Qatar.’
Carpenter Tom Miller, 24 from Maidstone, Kent kissed his England badge and said: ‘It’s hot outside and this beer tastes great. We’re not worried about not being able to drink outside stadiums because we’ll make sure that we’ll have a belly full before we leave for the match’.
His friend Steve Jenkins, 26 said: ‘We’ve been on the lash all night and I’m sure we’ll have lots more. This pub’s great. You’d never believe you’re in Qatar. It’s like the Queen Vic in EastEnders.’
Carole Brocklesby, 59, from Hull told MailOnline: ‘Everyone is behind England. There aren’t that many fans here. But my husband, Paul and I just had to come. We’ve spent about £50,000, but worth every penny if we win the World Cup’.
Her husband Paul, 68, said: ‘Every England fan here in Qatar has paid a lot of money and really loves the players and the team.
‘Obviously our supporters are behind them. But if Harry Kane gets himself booked twice, because of the armband, then I’m afraid I don’t agree with that. It’s about the team and their supporters and trying to win the trophy.’
England’s Bukayo Saka celebrates scoring their second goal during World Cup group B soccer match against Iran
England fans seen before the FIFA World Cup Qatar Group B match between England and Iran at Khalifa International Stadium
Bukayo Saka of England dribbles the ball during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group B match between England and IR Iran at Khalifa International Stadium
Declan Rice, Jude Bellingham and Harry Maguire also lowered themselves to the pitch to take the knee before the match with Iran began
Harry Kane takes the knee before the kick off in an anti-racism stance
Kane was wearing the official FIFA ‘No Discrimination’ armband, having removed his England jacket following the national anthems. The rainbow armband was expected to be worn but the threat of a booking stopped it
Harry Kane also raised his arm as the England team took the knee in a gesture not mirrored by the Iranians
Harry Maguire appeared to be dragged down to the floor by Iran defender Roozbeh Cheshmi
There was a 10 minute delay after goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand of Iran clashed heads with his teammate. He had to come off
David Beckham was seen in the stands before the match this afternoon
Former England captain Beckham, who has come under criticism for his role as an ambassador for Qatar, was pictured inthe stands at the stadium today
Fans at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha this afternoon
Raheem Sterling’s partner Paige Milian shared an Instagram story of one of their children arriving at the stadium for the match
Beckham then changed into a suit as he made his way to the stands shortly before kick-off
England fans show off their three lions insignia as they leave the pub in London after watching the broadcast of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022
Back home in England pubs started filling up at dawn this morning with supporters. Bosses are expected to let staff watch the match at work or home or face a flurry of staff calling in sick or bunking off. One in ten schools are expected to show the game in class.
This morning supporters in Qatar are already drinking booze despite its sale being strictly controlled in the Muslim country.
Videos showed them downing drinks and singing songs in the hours before the Three Lions’ big game in an English-themed pub.
Sarah Thompson, 42 from Bristol: ‘This is great. It feels like being in a traditional English pub.
‘My partner and I paid a lot of money for these tickets and we’ll know soon enough if i was worth it. I was worried that we might not be able to get a drink but I’ve had a few beers and I’ll have a few more so I’m happy.’
There was loud cheering as two fans walked into the bar dressed as St George.
Sarah added: ‘The Qataris have been great. All they’ve wanted to do is take pictures with us. We feel like film stars.’
Around 4,000 England supporters are believed to be heading to Qatar for the World Cup with around 2,800 expected to be in the ground to watch Gareth Southgate‘s men play in a match they are widely expected to win.
Many flew into Qatar this morning, some from the UK and others from Dubai and Abu Dhabi where the rules on drinking is more relaxed and accommodation more plentiful.
But the stadium is unlikely to packed out in a way England games at major tournaments usually are with the host’s opening match only a third full after they were easily beaten by Ecuador last night.
There were also empty seats at the opening ceremony featuring Morgan Freeman and attended by the Qatari royals, VIPs including Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, David Beckham and FIFA delegates. The show, which promised that football is for everyone, reportedly cost £10million to put together.
Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions today faces the most politically-charged World Cup match in its history today when they face Iran.
England’s team have confirmed that they will take the knee before they kick off against Iran. All eyes will be on the Iranian team and whether any rebel players will give any scissor-like gesture to support the women of Iran amid mass protests in their country. There are also calls for England players to do it by the families of Britons held by the Tehran regime.
England’s Harry Kane, Harry Maguire and Conor Coady with teammates on the pitch before the match
The England team on the pitch ahead of the match with Iran
Gareth Southgate, Head Coach of England, arrives at the stadium followed by star player Harry Kane ahead of the World Cup match in Doha
David Beckham in Doha today where he is an ambassador for the Qatar World Cup
Supporter John Booth lines up the beers in a Qatar pub as the Three Lions begin their World Cup campaign today
England fans get the drinks in in Qatar
Thousands of England fans have descended on Qatar and have managed to sniff out £12 pints ahead of the first match of the World Cup.
England fans at the Villaggio Mall ahead of the FIFA World Cup Group B match
Fans with England flags in the stadium before kick off
England fans Joanne and Tony Bate outside of the stadium ahead of the FIFA World Cup Group B match at the Khalifa International Stadium, Doha
Supporters wore t-shirts in support of the protests in Iran for the match
England fans outside of the Khalifa Stadium in Qatar for the first match of the tournament for the Three Lions
Paul and Carole Brocklesby from Hull in Qatar today on a trip that has cost them £50,000 – but said it will be ‘worth it’ if England win
England and Iran fans outside of the stadium in Qatar,during the FIFA World Cup
England and Wales football fans arrive at Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar
Thousands of England fans are in Qatar for the match – although this is expected to peak for the Wales game
Alex Major and his father John before England’s big game today
Videos showed England supporters downing drinks and singing songs in the hours before the game.
Fans enjoy drinks before the game with around 3,000 supporters in Doha for the match
An England fan adjusts his headdress at the traditional market Souq Waqif in Doha
England’s Harry Kane during a training session at the Al Wakrah Sports Club Stadium yesterday
Other supporters also expressed their concern that talisman Kane could miss some of the World Cup, if he carries out his wish to wear a rainbow coloured armband in support of gay people in Qatar, where homosexuality is forbidden and punished by the law.
Alex Major, 20, from North London said: ‘Good for Harry Kane, but if he gets booked in two games, he’ll be suspended and that’s too much of a price to pay.’ The Arsenal fan added: ‘It could damage our World Cup hopes and cost us a lot.’
His father, John added: ‘I have been to a lot of world cups. But the excitement of this one is just not the same.
‘I admire Harry Kane for taking a stance. But I wouldn’t be very happy if we ended up missing the match. He’s our best player. We need every player to fight as best as they can to bring the World Cup home.’
Solicitor Karen Bareham, 60, from Guildford, Surrey, said it was ‘so far so good’ for her trip to Qatar as she arrived at the Khalifa International Stadium.
Asked if the alcohol stadium ban had affected her plans, she told the PA news agency: ‘A little bit, I literally haven’t had a drink yet, I’m not saying I’m shaking but there’s a lot of conversation about where can we get a drink, it’s part of the football culture and that is how it is.’
Ms Bareham added: ‘It is a change to what we would ordinarily do but so far so good, and then we’ve jumped on some Wales tickets for later tonight, so it’s two games for us today and then do a bit of sightseeing.’
Ms Bareham, on England captain Harry Kane wearing the rainbow armband, said: ‘I think he should wear it, I think it’d be the right thing to do, if he picks up a yellow card so be it.’
Shane Jackson, 33, from Malvern, Worcestershire, said: ‘They’re going to take the knee as well before the game, I think Harry Kane shouldn’t have the burden on him – of being booked should I wear it, should we focus on the football – the political stuff should be left behind, I know they’ve put their thoughts out on it, but let the players concentrate on the football now.’
Christian Parker, 29, arrived on a shuttle flight from Dubai, where he lives.
Speaking at the Khalifa International Stadium, Mr Parker told the PA news agency: ‘The Iranian fans were on the train as well, they’re a lot louder than us so far, we feel a bit outnumbered at the moment.’
Reece Parker, 27, from London and who flew in from Dubai, said he expected a tight first game.
He added on England’s chances: ‘We’ve got a good chance, I don’t think there’s any outstanding favourites.’
Paul Dawson, 52, from Newcastle, who is also doing the matchday shuttle flights, said: ‘I hope we can win it, I will be pleased with the semi-final but quarter-final probably realistic.’
Mr Dawson said the alcohol stadium ban had affected his plans ‘a little bit’, adding: ‘It’s not the end of the world, we’ll make up for it when we’re back in Dubai.’
The FA expected a fine for breaching FIFA’s statutes but the prospect of Kane – arguably England’s most important player – being booked, and hence face suspension, was a scenario English football’s governing body were concerned about.
Kane said: ‘We have made it clear as a team, staff and organisation that we want to wear the armband. I know the FA are talking to FIFA and by game time they will have had their decision’.
Head coach Gareth Southgate added: ‘I know there are some conversations going on. A number of the European countries have spoken. We have made our position clear, so hopefully everything will be resolved before the game.’
England are one of nine countries wearing the ‘One Love’ armband.
Indeed, news of a possible booking also reached the Germany and Holland camp yesterday.
Holland skipper Virgil van Dijk said ahead of his side’s game versus Senegal: ‘Nothing changed from our point of view.
‘If I will get a yellow card for wearing it then we would have to discuss it because I don’t like to play while being on a yellow.’
But this morning Holland U-turned and said Virgil van Dijk will not wear it because ‘it was not possible to jointly come to a reasonable solution’ with FIFA.
Less than an hour later – England and Wales followed suit.
The latest row comes after the competition got off to a tumultuous start on Sunday as it was officially opened by Morgan Freeman in a spectacular opening ceremony.
The actor, 85, who four years ago apologised following accusations of sexual harassment, raised eyebrows narrated a toe-curling segment titled The Calling, telling hundreds of millions of people watching around the world: ‘We all gather here in one big tribe.’
When the action on the pitch finally began, two seconds early as the referee did not wait for the stadium countdown to be over, there was bad news for the host nation.
Watched by the Gulf state’s royals and David Beckham, the home side lost 0-2 to Ecuador, whose fans mocked Qatar’s alcohol ban by chanting ‘queremos cerveza’, or ‘we want beer’. Beckham, who has been criticised for being a paid ambassador to the Qatar World Cup, watched from the VIP seats.
The oil-rich nation has faced a barrage of criticism over its treatment of foreign workers, LGBT rights and social restrictions, staking its reputation on delivering a smooth tournament. It has been accused of trying to stage manage the World Cup with ‘fake fans’ to spin positive coverage.
In parts of the stadium the majority of seats were left empty for the second half of the match between Ecuador and Qatar
England coach Gareth Southgate said he hopes ‘everything will be resolved before the game’ and said the team had made their feelings on the matter clear
Rows of empty seats were visible behind Morgan Freeman as he narrates the opening ceremony of the World Cup in Qatar
There were scores of empty seats in the stadium during the opening ceremony of FIFA World Cup ahead of the opening match between Qatar and Ecuador
Disgraced actor Morgan Freeman (left) performed the opening segment with World Cup ambassador and Qatari citizen Ghanim al-Muftah (right)
Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani (left) waves to the crowd as he arrives with FIFA President Gianni Infantino (right) for the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group A football match between Qatar and Ecuador at the Al-Bayt Stadium in Al Khor
Yesterday, thousands of empty seats could be seen during the ceremony, but after the opening match kicked off at 4pm UK time, the stadium – designed to resemble a traditional Bedouin tent – appeared to suddenly fill, with many seats taken by the show’s performers.
Qatar’s Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, presided over the ceremony, flanked by Fifa president Gianni Infantino, who has drawn ridicule by branding European nations racist – and saying he understood discrimination because he grew up with ginger hair and freckles.
Last night’s glitzy show, also featuring Jung Kook of South Korean boy band BTS, was intended to draw a line under the controversies. But even as it unfolded, riot police were called to tackle crowd chaos at a fan zone in the capital.
A crush of tens of thousands of fans pushed and shoved against police lines to enter the Fifa Fan Festival on Doha’s Corniche, which has a giant TV screen for viewing matches and a beer tent. Riot police armed with batons and shields stood guard as supporters pleaded with officers to let them through. ‘It’s very risky – people could die,’ said one, Hatem El-Berarri.
He said: ‘Old people, women, they cannot handle crowds like this.’ In a further blow to organisers, Colombian star Maluma, who sings on the World Cup’s official anthem, stormed out of a TV interview after being accused of ‘whitewashing’ human rights abuses in Qatar.
During the show, in a pointed riposte to criticism over Qatar’s human rights record, Freeman put on an act with 20-year-old entrepreneur and influencer Ghanim al Muftah, who was born with caudal regression syndrome, a rare disorder which impairs the development of the lower spine.
He said to the Hollywood star: ‘Come on over.’ When Freeman replied ‘I’m not sure, am I welcome?’, al Muftah said: ‘We sent out the call because everyone is welcome. This is an invitation to the whole world.’ Freeman, whose films include Hollywood classic The Shawshank Redemption, told crowds in the Al Bayt stadium: ‘How can so many countries, languages and cultures come together, if only one way is accepted?’
Last week, Qatar’s Supreme Committee, run by the country’s morality sheikhs, slapped a last-minute ban on beer in the stadiums.
Yesterday official sponsor Budweiser released a photo of tens of thousands of cans stacked in a warehouse, offering to give it all away to the World Cup winners. Morgan’s appearance at the ceremony comes four years after he was accused of sexual misconduct by eight women and issued an apology to ‘anyone who felt uncomfortable or disrespected’ by his behaviour, saying it was ‘never my intent’.
Football fans reacted with fury on social media, with one remarking acidly: ‘It is so disappointing to see Morgan Freeman take the money and support an oppressive regime.’ Qatar last night said the crowd incident arose after the main gate was temporarily closed because the venue had reached capacity early.
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