FIFA has confirmed that the 2022 World Cup will begin a day earlier than originally planned to allow the hosts Qatar to face Ecuador in the tournament’s opening match. Qatar were originally due to open their first World Cup campaign on Monday, November 21, with Group A rivals Senegal and the Netherlands scheduled to kick off the competition earlier in the day.
However, the Qatari team will now begin the competition on Sunday, November 20, due to a unanimous decision by the FIFA Council Presidency.
Its organizers, FIFA, said the decision followed an assessment of the competition and operational implications, as well as a thorough consultation process and an agreement with key stakeholders and the host country.
“The change ensures the continuity of a long-standing tradition of marking the start of the FIFA World Cup with an opening ceremony on the occasion of the first match featuring either the hosts or the defending champions,” FIFA said in a statement.
FIFA also stated that it will “seek to address any issues” related to fans’ disrupted travel plans as a result of the new schedule.
This year’s edition brings the World Cup to the Arab World for the first time. The 2022 World Cup will be the first in the tournament’s 92-year history to be held in November and December. All of the previous 21 editions were held between late May and the end of July.