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World Cup to kick off day earlier than planned as Qatar opener brought forward

The Al Bayt Stadium in Doha will host the first game of the 2022 World Cup a day earlier than planned on Sunday, November 20 (Adam Davy/PA)
The Al Bayt Stadium in Doha will host the first game of the 2022 World Cup a day earlier than planned on Sunday, November 20 (Adam Davy/PA)

The 2022 World Cup will start a day earlier than planned with hosts Qatar playing Ecuador on Sunday, November 20.

The Group A match and opening ceremony have been brought forward as a “stand-alone event”, FIFA has confirmed.

Group A rivals Senegal and Holland – who were due to get the tournament under way at 1pm local time (10am GMT) on Monday, November 21 – will now kick off at 7pm (4pm GMT) that day, three hours after England play their opening game against Iran in Group B.

“The opening match and ceremony of this year’s tournament at Al Bayt Stadium have been brought forward one day following a unanimous decision taken by the Bureau of the FIFA Council today,” said a statement from football’s world governing body.

“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.

“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.”

FIFA has said the the release period for players at the 2022 World Cup remains unchanged, beginning on November 14.

England v Switzerland – Alzheimer’s Society International – Wembley Stadium
England will be involved in the second match of the World Cup in Qatar, against Iran (Steven Paston/PA)

The FIFA statement added: “Ticket holders will be duly notified by email that the relevant matches have been rescheduled and their tickets will remain valid irrespective of the new date/time.

“In addition, FIFA will seek to address any issues arising from this change in a case-by-case basis.

“The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 match schedule, as well as the competition regulations, have been amended accordingly.”