WC to start a day earlier than planned
GENEVA: The FIFA has formally announced that the World Cup 2022 will start a day earlier than planned to give host nation Qatar an exclusive Sunday evening slot.
Qatar will now play Ecuador at the 60,000-capacity Al Bayt Stadium in Doha on November 20, stretching the World Cup to 29 days from the 28 agreed seven years ago, when a June-July tournament was pushed back to avoid the searing heat in mid-summer. The surprise late switch was approved by a FIFA committee comprising its president Gianni Infantino and the presidents of six continental football bodies.
The plan was revealed on Wednesday after several rounds of ticket sales. “FIFA will seek to address any issues arising from this change in a case-by-case basis,” football’s world body said on Thursday regarding fans whose travel plans are affected.
The meeting between Qatar and Ecuador was originally scheduled on November 21 – as the third fixture of Qatar 2022 – after the draw was made in Doha on April 1. It is unclear as to why Qatar’s first match was not scheduled as the tournament opener.
Changing the opening match does let FIFA follow the recent trend of the host nation having an exclusive day to play the first game of the tournament.