Thanks to the opening ceremony of the World Cup, the non-Arab world now also knows the inspiring life story of Ghanim Al Muftah, a man who is not hindered by the rare condition caudal regression syndrome (CRS).
Before the eyes of the world, Al Muftah quoted a verse from the Quran about diversity to Hollywood actor Morgan Freeman. Together they brought a message of unity at the start of a World Cup that is burdened by increased attention for Qatar’s treatment of guest workers, LGBTQI+, women’s rights and human rights in general.
READ ALSO. Severely disabled World Cup ambassador speaks at opening ceremony in Qatar: who is 20-year-old Ghanim Al Muftah?
Car accident in 2008
While the world press focused on the story of Al Muftah – and the stories of thousands of guest workers who died building the football stadiums – Freeman’s hand was somewhat underexposed.
However, attentive viewers noticed that the Hollywood actor wore a special beige glove on his left hand. It is a compression glove that the 85-year-old actor has been wearing since a car accident in 2008, when Freeman overturned his Nissan on a highway in the US state of Mississippi.
The actor was not unscathed from the car accident. The immediate damage was a broken shoulder, arm and elbow. The longer term damage was nerve damage resulting in paralysis in his left hand.
The glove must keep the blood flowing in his hand. Since the accident, Freeman has suffered from fibromyalgia. Freeman takes off the glove for official photos and for filming, but to reach out to Al Muftah, he kept it on.
Not only for that reason it was a remarkable choice to have the opening show accompanied by the inimitable, deep voice of the actor of ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ and Se7en’. The Oscar winner was still the face of the United States in 2010 to win the 2022 World Cup, until Qatar succeeded, amid rumors of bribery.
While the actor who portrayed Nelson Mandela in the film ‘Invictus’ accepted Qatar’s demand, stars such as Dua Lipa, Rod Steward and Shakira refused to perform at the tournament, citing the human rights situation.