The FIFA men's soccer World Cup finals got underway on Sunday in Qatar amid some controversial changes. It's the first time the tournament has been awarded to a Middle Eastern country, and also the first held outside the traditional European summer window.
The opening ceremony featured a taste of the local culture, alongside a lineup of international artists.
Kickoff was set for November to avoid the desert state's scorching summer heat. Thirty-two teams in eight groups make up the first round, with the top two from each going on to the knockout games.
Host Qatar played Ecuador in the opening match. Ecuador went ahead early when captain Enner Valencia scored the first goal of the tournament on a penalty.
Valencia netted his second with a header. Ecuador won the opener 2 to 0.
Fans gathered in the capital, Doha, for a public viewing. Despite Qatar's alcohol ban, beer was available for the occasion.
Qatar became the first Islamic country hosting the World Cup. But the country has drawn international criticism over its human rights record, including migrant worker deaths and the treatment of LGBTQ community. Many European leaders chose to stay away from the opening ceremony.
The tournament runs through to the final on December 18.


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