The Qatar World Cup 2022 will begin on November 20 instead of the 21st of the same month, after organizers decided to move the opening match up a day, AFP learned from sources close to the World Cup file on Wednesday.
The move, which must be approved by the International Football Association Board (FIFA) before the 100-day countdown to the final begins this week, will preserve the host nation’s tradition of playing the opening match.
As per the current schedule, Senegal and the Netherlands play their first match on November 21, followed by the official opening match between Qatar and Ecuador later that day.
The change is expected to be confirmed soon, sources said. FIFA and the local organizing committee declined to comment on the news.
A source close to the file told AFP, on condition of anonymity, that “there were discussions and an agreement between the two teams involved, and there was also a request from CONMEBOL, the South American football confederation.”
We wanted to follow the tradition of having the defending champion or host nation play the opening game.
Another source close to the match told AFP that fans with tickets for the November 21 match “will be managed to minimize the impact of any issues.”
Under the change, the Netherlands-Senegal match will be moved from 1:00 pm local time (10.00 GMT) to 7:00 pm on November 21.
The source added, “It’s great for both teams, carrier channels and multiple parties and destinations.”
“no big deal”
Companies linked with big deals with the World Cup have expressed confidence that they can handle the unusual change in the calendar smoothly.
Jaime Byrom, head of Match Hospitality, which has a partnership with FIFA to organize hospitality packages for the World Cup, said it has already booked 450,000 tickets for the final.
“This is not really a big problem compared to other challenges that we have faced or faced in the past,” Peram told AFP.
“I think we have to pay attention to the most affected customers (ticket holders), in this case we will look at the situation of our Ecuadorian customers who are traveling from abroad and make sure they arrive on time for the match.”
The opening match will be held at the 60,000-seat Al Bad Stadium, one of seven new stadiums built for the World Cup since Qatar won the right to host the final in 2010.
Qatar is gearing up for a grand opening at the stadium, which is inspired by traditional Arabic tents.
Bringing the inaugural contest forward means moving the date of the 100-day countdown to the final, which was scheduled to begin Saturday with special events across the country of 2.8 million people.
Qatar is the first country to ever host the most important football event in the Middle East and one of the most important sporting events in general.
Due to high summer temperatures in the Gulf emirate, the finals were moved from their traditional date in the summer to late autumn.
After controversy over the bid process, Qatar faced criticism over workers’ rights and its treatment of the gay community, but Swiss FIFA president Gianni Infantino said the small gas-rich nation would “ever” host the “best” World Cup.
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