World Cup start brought forward to Nov 20

AFP
August 11, 2022

DOHA: The World Cup’s start will be brought forward by a day to allow hosts Qatar to play the opening game, sources told AFP on Wednesday, just over three months before the competition gets...

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DOHA: The World Cup’s start will be brought forward by a day to allow hosts Qatar to play the opening game, sources told AFP on Wednesday, just over three months before the competition gets underway.

Qatar will now play Ecuador on November 20, 24 hours earlier than planned, in a move that FIFA’s ruling council was expected to confirm soon, according to sources with knowledge of the matter.

The change will see the tournament, which was switched to November-December to avoid the Gulf country’s searing summer heat, keep to its tradition of the hosts playing the opening match.

Senegal and the Netherlands had been scheduled to play the first game on November 21, followed by England against Iran and then the official inauguration match, Qatar’s World Cup debut, that evening.

“There were discussions and agreement between the two respective teams and there was a request from CONMEBOL -- the South American confederation,” one World Cup source told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity as no official decision has been announced.

“We wanted to follow the tradition that either the reigning champions or the host country be involved in the opening match,” the source added.

FIFA and the Qatari organising committee declined to comment on the change to the mega event that ends on December 18.

But another tournament source said action would be taken to help fans with tickets for the November 21 game.

“Any disruption will be dealt with so the impact is minimal,” the source told AFP.

Under the change, Netherlands v Senegal in Group A would be moved from 1:00pm (1000 GMT) on November 21 to a 7:00pm start. “It is a better slot for both teams for television and other areas,” said the World Cup source.

England’s Group B match against Iran is not changed. Companies with major deals linked to the World Cup expressed confidence that the unusual schedule change could be handled smoothly.



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