By Richard Wheeler and Bronwen Weatherby, PA, in Doha
Morgan Freeman sought to provide a dose of Hollywood gravitas as the 2022 World Cup was officially opened in Qatar.
The Oscar-winning actor, known for his roles in The Shawshank Redemption and Million Dollar Baby, narrated the opening ceremony initially on a video before appearing in the 60,000-capacity Al Bayt Stadium.
He told the crowd: “We gather here as one big tribe and Earth is the tent we all live in.”
Men dancing with swords, camels and a parade of World Cup mascots also featured in the ceremony to open the competition controversially awarded to Qatar.
Dreamers, from the official World Cup soundtrack, was performed by BTS superstar Jung Kook and Qatari singer Fahad Al Kubaisi.
The lyrics include: “Look who we are, we are the dreamers, we’ll make it happen because we believe it.”
Qatar has spent more than $200 billion (€193 billion) on infrastructure since 2010.
Freeman appeared later in the ceremony to tell the crowd: “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.”
Fifa president Gianni Infantino was in attendance alongside Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the emir of Qatar, and Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the driving force behind the country’s World Cup bid.