For many football fans on Sunday night, there were many such moments thanks to the charms of the Jio Cinema app that streamed (sic) the Qatar 2022 World Cup opening ceremony and the first game of the tournament. While the standard solution provided for anyone complaining about the freeze-frames on their screens every few minutes was to move to Sports18 DTH/cable, for many, the more practical ‘solution’ was to hurl gaalis at the screen.
I missed the opening ceremony, except to catch Morgan Freeman frozen, seemingly as Nelson Mandela from the (1995 Rugby) World Cup movie, Invictus. I was told by people who did catch the event on DTH/cable that the opening ceremony sucked. Many may put that view down to innate racism, since it would be well-nigh impossible for a Gulf country that prohibits beer and any Shakira-type highball entertainment to not put up a memorable, scintillating opening ceremony show.
As for the football that followed, streaming, by definition, means a free-flowing experience. That’s why it’s not called ‘glaciering’,‘thawing’, or ‘freezing’. But for those who did experience a smooth viewing of Sunday’s opening game between Qatar and Ecuador, unlike their Jio Cinema-holding counterparts, they weren’t spared the quality of the game – also variously and coincidentally described as ‘glaciering’, ‘thawing’ and ‘freezing’. Going through the motions (something that Jio Cinema-viewers were spared thanks to servers probably powered on candlelight), the players belied a World Cup game.
The fact that we now know the name of the Ecuadorian No 13 forward Enner Valencia is much due to the host nation freezing (metaphorically, this time) at al Bayt Stadium in al Khor. Valencia really scored a hattrick – but the first goal was disallowed after the Italian ref checked VAR and found one of the feet of one of the Ecuadorian forwards, Michael Estrada, ahead of the second last Qatari defender Abdelkarim Hassan. Make that one of the toes of one of the feet of one of the Ecuadorian players.
But coming back to the focus of the Qatar World Cup’s first day, the protagonist must be Jio Cinema, which made many old enough to recall watching adult content on a MTNL modem connection in circa 2003. So, the supposed bribe of $7.4 million – alleged by Amjad Taha, the Bahrain-based director of the regional head of the the
British Centre for Middle East Studies and picked up enthusiastically by the global media — offered to the ‘eight Ecuadrian players may have:
- Been turned down by Ecuador
- Taken by Ecuador and the deal then reneged upon
- Was cooked up as a rumour to make a dull opening World Cup match a wee bit exciting
Whichever way the 90 minutes went, though, the 2-0 final scoreline, delivering the first ever defeat of a host World Cup team in the opening match was just and a relief when it ended. Although for many Jio Cinema ‘streaming’ service consumers, it may still be on, ‘frozen in time.’