King Felipe of Spain is cheering for his country.
King Felipe, 54, stepped out at the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar on Wednesday to watch the Spanish team play their first game. The King sat beside Spanish Royal Football Federation President Luis Rubiales at Al-Thumama Stadium in Doha, where they saw Spain beat Costa Rica 7-0 — the highest-ever margin of win for the national team at the World Cup, FOX Soccer reported.
It remains unclear if King Felipe will stay in Doha for Spain’s next game (against Germany) on Sunday. Gert’s Royals notes that the Spanish sovereign is the first senior-ranking European royal to attend a World Cup match this year.
Even before it began, the elite event has been embroiled in controversy over its host city. Qatar has faced criticism for its systemic discrimination against women and the LGBTQ+ community, as well as the reported deaths of 37 migrant workers helping to construct the stadiums where the games are being played, per The Guardian.
Though King Felipe saw the national team succeed on the field, his presence at the World Cup has been chastised by some at home. According to the AFP, Gerardo Pisarello of the Podemos political party said it was “unfortunate” for the palace to announce the King was going to Qatar without “making any critical objections about what is happening there.”
Meanwhile, at least two future kings are not expected to attend the World Cup. Hello! previously cited a Kensington Palace spokesperson in reporting that Prince William would not attend the Doha tournament due to his “busy winter schedule.”
Elsewhere in Europe, no Danish royal family members or elected officials planned to go amid a transition in government, The Local reported earlier is month. The AFP also notes that Denmark is among the most vocal critics of the Qatar World Cup because of the country’s human rights record.
Though they’re not there in person, both Prince William and Crown Prince Frederik are rooting for their teams from afar. William, 40, awarded special jerseys to Team England before they left last week and has tweeted words of support for both the English and Welsh teams since.
The Royal House of Denmark similarly posted a festive photo of Frederik, 54, wearing a scarf in the national colors on Instagram Tuesday.
“The football World Cup for Denmark starts ⚽️🇩🇰👏,” they tweeted. “Come on guys!”