World Cup to start a day earlier with Qataris requesting standalone opening day slot

August 10 – FIFA have reportedly granted a Qatar request to start the World Cup a day earlier than scheduled with the hosts opening the tournament against Ecuador.

The World Cup is currently set to start Monday November 21 with a four-match opening day that beings with the Group A match between Holland and Senegal in the Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor, followed by England vs Iran in Al Rayyan, Al Khor in Group B.

The third game of the opening day would have been a second Group A clash between Qatar and Ecuador at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor. Group B match USA vs Wales at the Ahmed bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan would have closed out the day.

Now the Qataris are requesting that their game is moved forward to Sunday November 20 and have reportedly been given the support of Conmebol, with talks also involving the Qatar and Ecuador FAs.

Since the 2006 tournament in Germany, it has become traditional that the host nation play in the opening game.

The proposal is expected to be rubber stamped in the next few days by the FIFA Bureau, which comprises the presidents of the five confederations plus FIFA president Gianni Infantinio.

In a letter to FIFA Bureau members seen by the New York Times, FIFA recommends the proposal, saying: “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.”

The extension of the World Cup would turn the event into a 29-day competition with the final to be played on December 18.

The 100-day countdown to the opening match starts this week, likely a day earlier.

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