The 2022 World Cup in Qatar started with a….well, without a bang. It was a dreadful and boring match between the hosts and Ecuador, with Ecuador winning 2-0, thanks to Enner Valencia.
The match, as has been the norm this decade, had an iffy VAR call, but not much else. Among other things, Ecuador fans were allegedly singing “We want beer” in the stadium. Drab, drab affair.
The opening ceremony, in contrast, was a much grander affair. Held at Al Bayt Stadium, the highlight of the ceremony was BTS singer Jung Kook, who performed his new song ‘Dreamers’.
Hollywood superstar Morgan Freeman was also featured in the ceremony. The actor put his iconic voice to good use, giving a monologue to put across the message of tolerance, unity and hope.
Sharing the stage with Freeman was Ghanim Al Muftah. For people like us who are hearing this name for the first time, Ghanim Al Muftah is a Qatari youth icon and an ambassador of the World Cup this year.
He recited verses for the Quran, advocating diversity and acceptance. Ghanim, for those wondering about the awkward position in the image, suffers from a rare spinal disorder which inhibits growth.
Freeman, while pushing his message, said, “Football spans the world, unites nations in their love of the beautiful game.”
“What brings together nations also brings together communities.
“We all have a story on football and how it brought us together and this land has a story of its very own.”
While the stadium was being enamoured by songs, lights, mascots and dances, viewers watching on screens elsewhere noticed something peculiar.
Morgan Freeman’s left arm looked synthetic and highly unusual. He was wearing a glove.
Needless to say, this caught the attention of a lot of viewers.
For anyone who closely follows Mr Freeman or Hollywood, this was not a new thing. But for most of us, this was the first time we came across this.
Well, the explanation is rather quite straightforward.
The 85-year-old actor was involved in a dangerous car crash back in 2008. The crash left him paralysed in the left hand. For the same, he is required to wear a compression glove to keep blood from pooling in his left hand and has been wearing it for the last 14 years.
Morgan Freeman does remove the glove every now and then for some movies and photoshoots but chose not to on this global stage, which explains why so many of us watching had no clue about the incident.
The actor was lucky to survive the crash, as the car had flipped several times over, ultimately ending in a ditch. He did receive surgery to repair a damaged nerve but the same could not solve the paralysis.
It is great to see that the accident and the subsequent troubles have not deterred Freeman, who continues to act and deliver powerful messages using the global stage.
Only yesterday, another legend, albeit from another sport, Sebastian Vettel of Formula One, spoke about using sports and platforms to further messages like unity.
He and Freeman are setting the right example and we hope more and more personalities advocate the right causes at the right time.