FIFA are set to change the start date of the World Cup so that the host nation Qatar can kick off the tournament.
The 2022 edition was initially due to start on Monday November 21 with Senegal playing the Netherlands.
However, after pleas from the hosts, the governing body will move the tournament forward by a day, allowing Felix Sanchez’s men to take part in the curtain-raiser on Sunday November 20.
Their clash with Ecuador will kick off at 7pm (4pm GMT) that day at the Al Bayt Stadium, instead of the original date of Monday November 21.
However, the decision to change the start date of the World Cup will not affect England’s opening game of the tournament.
The Three Lions will take on Iran in their first game of Group B on November 21 at 4pm (1pm GMT) as originally planned.
The only other fixture ammended is the original first game between Senegal and Holland. The Group A rivals will now take the 7pm (4pm GMT) slot on the Monday vacated by Qatar and Senegal. It will still take place at the Al Thumama Stadium.
The decision to change the start date of the World Cup still needs to be approved by the Bureau of the FIFA Council.
FIFA is reportedly set to change the start date of the World Cup so that Qatar can play first (pictured: Al Bayt Stadium – the venue for Qatar’s opening fixture vs Ecuador)
Qatar will reportedly play Ecuador on Sunday November 20 at 7pm (4pm GMT), instead of the original date of Monday November 21 at 7pm (4pm GMT)
That includes President Gianni Infantino and the leaders of each continental confederation.
However, the Athletic have reported that an agreement over the new start date should be granted in the comings days.
This would mean the World Cup in Qatar would take place from November 20 to December 18.
In a letter to the members of the burueau, as reported 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 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.’
Qatar had originally turned down the chance to take part in the opening game, which would have kicked off at 1pm local time on Monday 21 November.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino (left) is expected to ratify the decision to move the tournament
Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani was keen to have a fireworks display at Qatar’s first match
The reason behind this is understood to be the Emir’s desire to host an eye-catching fireworks display to announce Qatar’s first appearance in a World Cup finals.
UPDATED WORLD CUP FIXTURES IN QATAR
Sunday, November 20, 2022
QATAR vs ECUADOR, 7pm (4pm GMT) – Al Bayt Stadium
Monday, November 21, 2022
ENGLAND vs IRAN 4pm (1pm GMT) – Khalifa International Stadium
SENEGAL vs HOLLAND 7pm (4pm GMT) – Al Thumama Stadium
USA vs WALES 10pm (7pm GMT) – Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium
Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani did not want his side to kick off the tournament in the opening slot, as he felt the spectacle of the fireworks display would have been dampened.
However, Qatar are keen to keep with the tradition of the host nation taking part in the tournament opener, and as a result have lobbied to have the dates altered to allow for both their appearance after the opening ceremony and a awe-inspiring fireworks display.
Gigantic pyrotechnic displays have been a staple of previous global events hosted within the Gulf state. The 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships were heralded with a massive display that lit up Doha.
Qatar wanted to uphold years of tradition by playing in the opener as hosts. While the hosts have automatically qualified for the tournament since 1938, only since 2006 has the precedent of them appearing in the opener been observed.
Before then, since 1974, the reigning champions kicked off tournaments, with France the last to kick off a tournament when they went down to a shock 1-0 defeat by Senegal in Seoul in 2002.
Qatar’s first game of the competition is set to take place at the 60,000-capacity Al Bayt Stadium, which is located 27 miles outside of the Doha city centre.
Being one of the larger stadiums in use, the arena is designed to represent Arab hospitality with the structure looking like a traditional Arab tent known as ‘bayt al sha’ar’.
Because temperatures in Qatar can top 30C even in November, it will also have a retractable roof to keep out the heat – which will certainly come in handy for the display.
The Emir’s desire is thought to be the reason Qatar wasn’t originally slated to kick off the event
England’s opening game of the tournament against Iran will not be affected as a result