Morgan Freeman was recently called a “sellout” by angry fans after he headlined this year’s FIFA World Cup opening ceremony in Qatar. What was meant to be a message of unity and peace made the actor sound like a “hypocrite,” after the renowned Oscar-winning actor sold his soul to a country that’s faced with multiple allegations of human rights violations.
Freeman performed a segment titled ‘The Calling’ during the opening ceremony with Ghanim Al Muftah, a Qatari businessman with a disability. The segment was supposed to be a celebration of inclusion and a call for the world to be united as one. The Oscar-winning actor and the businessman spread a message of tolerance, and finished it with the line “we all gather here in one big tribe.”
What was meant to be a powerful and emotional segment was met with backlash. Fans called out Freeman for taking “Qatar’s blood money.” They were upset that this renowned actor supported a country that allegedly extorts migrant and overseas workers and commits multiple human rights violations against them. Some fans wondered how much he was paid after they felt disappointed to see their favorite actor perform in Qatar.
Aside from “sellout,” others added another label to the actor, “hypocrite.” The speech was supposed to “welcome everyone,” but Qatar is known to have strict laws against the LGBT+ community. That topic was also a point of contention since it was announced that the games were going to be hosted in that country. According to CNN, multiple LQBT+ sports fans announced that they’d be boycotting this year’s event due to Qatar’s laws.
Freeman has not responded to the criticisms made toward him. The FIFA World Cup has just started and will finish by Dec. 18, 2022.