For decades, just the sound of actor Morgan Freeman’s voice has caused global audiences to snap to attention. But for the man who twice played God and once took on the role of Nelson Mandela, Freeman’s voice at the 2022 FIFA World Cup opening ceremony in Qatar sounds more like nails on a chalkboard than a unifying tone.
The 85-year-old Oscar-winning actor set Twitter on fire after he narrated an opening segment titled “The Calling” at Al-Bayt Stadium in Doha, with many labeling the thespian a “sellout” with “blood money” on his one-gloved hands.
“We gather here as one big tribe and Earth is the tent we all live in. Football spans the world, unites nations in their love of the beautiful game,” Freeman told the packed stadium. “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.”
Freeman was joined onstage by Ghanim al Muftah, a 20-year-old Qatari influencer, and the FIFA World Cup ambassador, who was born with Caudal Regression Syndrome, impairing the development of the lower half of his body.
As touching and electric as the moment appeared, many took to Twitter to torch the actor for accepting money from an “oppressive regime.”
“For a man who played Nelson Mandela – who knew better than anyone the impact & importance of isolation on a country & its success on the ground to change that nation’s policy – it is so disappointing to see #MorganFreeman take the money & support an oppressive regime,” wrote actor Gary Webster, who added the hashtag, “#Gutted.”
Hope the qatari blood money was worth you selling out for
— David Fents (@DavidFents) November 20, 2022
Freeman was already in hot water with FIFA fans after he bungled an attempt 12 years ago to have the 2022 tournament hosted in the USA.
In 2010, the actor, known for his eloquence, flubbed his lines, telling the crowd, “I’m sorry, I missed a page.” It was an embarrassment to fans and the USA’s bid team that hasn’t been forgotten, according to the Daily Mail.
“After listening to world corrupt podcast this seems like a slap in the face,” tweeted one user.
Another called Freeman’s appearance in Qatar “epic trolling on [a] Global Scale.”
After listening to world corrupt podcast this seems like a slap in the face
— JJ Feit (@JJ_Feit) November 20, 2022
Morgan Freeman was face of US bid to win right to host World Cup 2022. Here he is in December 2010, arriving Zurich to make final presentation. Qatar shocked world by winning hosting rights and today, Morgan Freeman is face of their opening ceremony. Epic Trolling on Global Scale pic.twitter.com/OeNi8VlYbr
— roger bennett (@rogbennett) November 20, 2022
Meanwhile, many were focused on the single glove Freeman was sporting during the ceremony.
— Sky Mirror (@Real_Sky_Mirror) November 20, 2022
In a separate report, the Daily Mail gave the details.
“It is actually a compression glove and Freeman has been wearing it on and off since paralysing his left hand in a car crash 14 years ago,” the outlet reports.
Freeman’s car flipped several times in a horrific accident on a Mississippi highway.
He broke his arm and elbow and suffered an injury to his shoulder.
“I suffered nerve damage and it hasn’t gotten better. I can’t move it,’ he said at the time, according to the Daily Mail. “If you don’t move your hand, it will swell up. Do you know you move your hand about a million times a day?”
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