World Cup

2022 World Cup start date changed to give Qatar first game

Jude Summerfield
Qatar is hosting the World Cup this year
Qatar is hosting the World Cup this year / Matthew Ashton - AMA/GettyImages
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FIFA will move the start date of the 2022 World Cup one day earlier to allow host nation Qatar to play in the first match.

The tournament had been due to kick off on Monday 21 November, with Senegal facing Netherlands at the Al-Thumama Stadium in Doha. But competition hosts have always played in the first game of the last four tournaments since 2006 and Qatar do not want to be an exception.

As such, they will now play against Ecuador to open the 2022 World Cup on Sunday 20 November, with kick off at 7pm GMT. The decision still needs to the ratified by the Bureau of the FIFA Council, but no issues are expected.

The winter World Cup is the first of its kind, with the tournament usually taking place during the European summer months. The decision to award hosting rights to Qatar has resulted in a number of logistical problems, as well as criticism over the nation's human rights record and corruption allegations.


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There will be a break in the middle of the 2022/23 European club season in order to accommodate the World Cup, with the Premier League pausing after the November 12/13 weekend before starting up again on Boxing Day in December. Other leagues have scheduled similar breaks.

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