DOHA (AFP) – FIFA on Thursday officially brought forward the opening match of this year’s World Cup by one day to November 20 in a rare change so that hosts Qatar feature in the gala game.
Football’s top officials universally approved the decision, FIFA said in a statement while Qatar said it would give unspecified help to fans affected by the change.
On the old schedule, Qatar against Ecuador was to be the official inauguration match on November 21 but Senegal against Netherlands would be the first match of the day. England against Iran would have been second.
Qatar had also been frustrated as it has invested in a huge opening ceremony show.
“Host country Qatar will now play Ecuador on Sunday November 20 as part of a stand-alone event,” said FIFA. “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.”