The decision, which must still be endorsed by the FIFA Council committee before the countdown of 100 days before the start of the World Cupwill allow to resume the tradition whereby the first match is played by the host country.
Contacted by AFP, FIFA and the tournament organization have refused to comment on this matter. “There have been talks and an agreement between the respective countries and a request from Conmebol (South American Football Confederation),” he told the AFP one of the sources, protected by anonymity since no official decision has yet been announced.
“We wanted to continue the tradition whereby the defending champion or the host country participates in the opening match,” adds this source. Senegal and the Netherlands had to play the first official match on the afternoon of November 21, followed by the official opening match between Qatar and Ecuador. For fans who have tickets for the match on November 21, “any disturbance will be managed in such a way that the impact is minimal,” another source close to the tournament told AFP. Due to this change, the Senegal-Netherlands would move from 13:00 local time to 19:00.
“It is a better schedule for the two teams in terms of broadcasting on television and for other sectors,” explains the source. – “It is not a major problem” – On the part of financial sponsors, this unusual change will be “managed”, says Jaime Byrom, president of Match Hospitality, a company that maintains an agreement with FIFA to organize accommodation packages for matches of the World Cup, and that it has reserved 450 thousand tickets for the tournament.
“Compared to other challenges that we will encounter or have been able to encounter, this is not a very important problem,” Byrom told AFP. “We are going to take an interest in our Ecuadorian clients, who travel from abroad, and make sure they arrive on time for the game,” he specified.
The opening match is planned at the Al-Bayt stadium, with a capacity of 60 thousand peopleone of seven new sports facilities built to host the tournament, since the World Cup was awarded to Qatar in 2010. The wealthy Gulf state is preparing a spectacular opening ceremony at this stadium, whose structure is inspired by traditional Bedouin tents of the Gulf.
The advancement of the match implies modifying the countdown of the 100 days before the World Cup, which was to be launched on Saturday, with events organized through the emirate of 2.8 million inhabitants, of which 90% are foreigners. Qatar is the first country in the Middle East to host one of the world’s biggest sporting events.
The competition was postponed from summer to winter 2022, due to extreme high temperatures in the Persian Gulf emirate. Despite the fact that FIFA President Gianni Infantino has promised that Qatar will host “the best” World Cup ever organized, The country has suffered numerous criticisms related to the rights of migrant workers and the criminalization of homosexuality.