Since the bidding process began, it was clear that Qatar as a host country would be controversial. From accusations of corruption surfacing over the years, concerns regarding the working conditions and deaths of guest workers building the infrastructure with the hashtag #boycottqatar circulating for some time now, Qatar’s conservative laws against homosexuality and its views on women, all the way to beer and weather, the World Cup in Qatar has not been simple. 

Controversy aside, the scorching summers forced the tournament to be postponed to the winter for the first time, and the strict alcohol laws prompted a beer-ban with a few exceptions, putting even more attention on the largest event in football. Some concerns are of course louder than others, as a sober, winter World Cup where unmarried couples might have to check into separate hotel rooms may seem trivial compared to some of the accusations coming down on the host country as it has prepared for the tournament.

Nevertheless, many have urged fans and spectators to focus on the sport rather than all the rest. Even the FIFA president Gianni Infantino issued a statement, which has also now come under fire, hoping that politics and opinions can be left out of the sporting event in order to enjoy what the World Cup is all about: football.

IMAGO/Xinhua
IMAGO / Xinhua | World Cup Opening Ceremony, Qatar. 20 November, 2022.
IMAGO/Bildbyran
IMAGO / Bildbyran | Day 1 of the World Cup in Qatar. 20 November, 2022.
IMAGO/Moritz Müller
IMAGO / Moritz Müller | Construction workers on the fan-mile in Doha. 16 November, 2022.

With Morgan Freeman, K-Pop star Jung Kook from BTS, along with Qatari singer Fahad Al Kubaisi and performances emphasizing Qatari culture introducing the tournament in the opening ceremony at the Al Bayt Stadium, the World Cup officially began. The first match kicked off on Sunday between Qatar and Ecuador – Ecuador winning 2-0, and Monday’s matches saw a victory for England beating Iran, as hopes are high for England after almost taking home the 2020 European Championships. The Netherlands and Senegal, both strong teams, along with Wales and the United States will also face off on the first full day of matches.    

Regardless of one’s opinion, the World Cup is not only a spectacle in sport with the world’s attention, but will be home to the next moments in football history with countless stories yet to come out of Qatar. IMAGO’s photographers are scattered in every crevice of the World Cup, documenting the matches but also giving us a taste of daily life in Doha and all the work that has gone into making a World Cup in the tiny desert nation possible.

See our live coverage of World Cup events, our curated collections and landing page

IMAGO/SNA
IMAGO / SNA | Morgan Freeman in the World Cup opening ceremony. 20 November, 2022.
IMAGO/Agencia EFE
IMAGO / Agencia EFE | South Korean Jung Kook performs during the opening ceremony of the FIFA World Cup. 20 November, 2022.
IMAGO/USA TODAY Network
IMAGO / USA TODAY Network | Opening Ceremony of the World Cup in Qatar. 20 November, 2022.
IMAGO/NurPhoto
IMAGO / NurPhoto | Opening Ceremony of the World Cup in Qatar. 20 November, 2022.
IMAGO/Pro Sports Images
IMAGO / Pro Sports Images | Match Three General view outside the Khalifa International Stadium during the 2022 Fifa World Cup match between England and Iran. 21 November, 2022.
IMAGO/PA Images
IMAGO / PA Images | International Stadium An England fan ahead of the FIFA World Cup Group B match at the Khalifa International Stadium, Doha. 21 November, 2022.
IMAGO/SNA
IMAGO / SNA | One day before the FIFA World Cup in Qatar. 19 November, 2022.
IMAGO/SNA
IMAGO / SNA | World Cup Preparations - official press center. 19 November, 2022.
IMAGO/Pixsell
IMAGO / Pixsell | Thousands of supporters were trying to access the FIFA Fan festival in Al Bidda with the World Cup opener between Qatar and Ecuador and were denied entry by armed police carrying batons and shields stopping supporters from accessing the dedicated fan zone. 20 November, 2022.
IMAGO/TT
IMAGO / TT | Workers on the famous Corniche promenade in Doha with Ras Abu Aboud Stadium in the background ahead of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar. 15 November, 2022.
IMAGO/Action Plus
IMAGO / Action Plus | Qatar versus Ecuador. 20 November, 2022.
IMAGO/Agencia MexSport
IMAGO / Agencia MexSport | Impressions from Doha. 18 November, 2022.
IMAGO/Agencia MexSport
IMAGO / Agencia MexSport | Impressions from Doha. 18 November, 2022.
IMAGO/Moritz Müller
IMAGO / Moritz Müller | Brazil Fans in the Mina District Corniche at the Harbour Doha. 18 November, 2022.
IMAGO/Agencia EFE
IMAGO / Agencia EFE | A woman looks at a painting wall of Argentinian soccer legend Diego Armando Maradona ahead of the FIFA World Cup. 18 November, 2022.
IMAGO/ANP
IMAGO / ANP | Orange supporters in the Souq Waqif in the center of Doha. 18 November, 2022.
IMAGO/Offside Sports Photography
IMAGO / Offside Sports Photography | Ecuador celebrates during the first match of the World Cup. 20 November, 2022.
IMAGO/Sportimage
IMAGO / Sportimage | Bukayo Saka of England celebrates scoring the second goal during the FIFA World Cup. 21 November, 2022.
IMAGO/Agencia MexSport
IMAGO / Agencia MexSport | Fans before the World Cup opening ceremony in Qatar. 20 November, 2022.
IMAGO/Laci Perenyi
IMAGO / Laci Perenyi | Doha impressions 1 week before the start of the 2022 World Cup. 12 November, 2022.
IMAGO/ANP
IMAGO / ANP | Images of Virgil van Dijk and Sadio Mane (L) on buildings in downtown Doha. 14 November, 2022.