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Qatar World Cup set to be earlier than planned with FIFA expected to move start date forward

Rory O'Callaghan

Published 
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Qatar World Cup set to be earlier than planned with FIFA expected to move start date forward

The upcoming World Cup in Qatar is set to start earlier than expected this winter.

FIFA are planning to move the start date for the tournament to a day earlier, according to Daily Mail.

The change is set to be made so that the host nation can play in the opening game, as is tradition.

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FIFA originally planned for World Cup to start on Monday, November 21, with Senegal playing against the Netherlands in the opening match of the tournament.

Qatar were scheduled to play their first game against Ecuador that same day but in the evening, after England had faced Iran.

But FIFA are now planning to move Qatar's opening game to Sunday, November 20 following pleas from the host nation to play in the tournament curtain-raiser.

The match will now kick off a day earlier at 7pm (4pm GMT) at the Al Bayt Stadium.

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The tournament is now expected to begin on November 20 (Image: Alamy)
The tournament is now expected to begin on November 20 (Image: Alamy)

The change will not affect England's opening game of the tournament, with the Three Lions taking on Iran at 4pm (1pm GMT) the following day as originally planned.

The only other fixture amended is the game between Senegal and the Netherlands, which will now take the 7pm (4pm GMT) slot on the Monday vacated by Qatar and Ecuador.

The decision to change the start date still needs to be given final approval by the Bureau of the FIFA Council, which includes FIFA president Gianni Infantino.

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But The Athletic claim that an agreement over the new start date should be granted in the coming days.

In a letter to the Bureau, seen by the New York Times, FIFA stated: "It has been a longstanding tradition to mark 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, a factor that is considered to have significant value from a ceremonial, cultural and commercial point of view.

The change is not expected to affect England's opening match of the tournament against Iran (Image: Alamy)
The change is not expected to affect England's opening match of the tournament against Iran (Image: Alamy)

"The FIFA administration has assessed the commercial and legal implications of the proposal — including the impact on contractual commitments across media rights, sponsorship, and ticketing and hospitality — as well as the impact on traveling fans, and has determined that any risk is sufficiently outweighed by the value and benefits of the proposals."

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Qatar had initially turned down the opportunity to play in the opening game of the tournament, which would have taken place at 1pm local time in Qatar on Monday, November 21.

The Daily Mail claim that the reason behind their initial reluctance to play in the match was because the country's leader Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani wanted to stage an eye-catching fireworks display to mark Qatar's first appearance at the World Cup.

It is claimed that he feared that the spectacle would be dampened if Qatar was playing during the day rather than the evening.

However, Qatar are now keen to maintain the tradition of the host nation taking part in the tournament opener.

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: Football World Cup, Football, Qatar, FIFA

Rory O'Callaghan
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