The 2022 Qatar World Cup will now start a day ahead of the originally scheduled time, with the host nation taking on Ecuador in the opening match on 20 November.
The opening game of the tournament was to face Senegal on Monday 21 November at 1 pm (10 am GMT), but the fixture will now take place at 7 pm (4 pm GMT) on the same date.
The opening ceremony of the World Cup has also been brought forward as a stand-alone event a day ahead of Qatar facing Ecuador at the Al Bayat Stadium, which will take place at 7 pm (4 pm GMT).
The change is in line with the long-standing tradition of opening matches involving the hosts or defending champions.
A FIFA statement released on Thursday included: “The decision followed an assessment of competition and operational implications, as well as a thorough consultation process and an agreement with key stakeholders and the host country.
“The release period, as decided earlier and as governed by the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players, will remain unchanged starting 14 November 2022.
“Ticket holders will be duly informed by email that the respective matches have been rescheduled and their tickets will remain valid irrespective of the new date/time.
“In addition, FIFA will try to address any issues arising from this change on a case-by-case basis.”
Why has this decision been taken now?
Sky Sports News chief correspondent Kawe Solahkol:
“The World Cup is going to start a day early, FIFA has just confirmed it. We told you yesterday (Wednesday) that they were considering moving the start date of the World Cup. There should be a meeting of the FIFA Bureau – which is effectively the FIFA cabinet, the seven most powerful people in world football.
“The President of FIFA and the President of the six FIFA associations, and they have unanimously decided that, instead of the World Cup starting with the game between Senegal and Holland from Monday 21 November, the tournament is going to start the day before.
“Sunday November 20th, the first game is going to be between hosts Qatar and Ecuador at 7pm and we’re going to have the opening ceremony before that game as well.
“It seemed a bit odd a decision that the World Cup was going to start with a game between Senegal and Holland, and we weren’t going to have the opening ceremony until Qatar played later that day.
“FIFA has decided that, logically, they can start the World Cup the day before.
“Of course it is very controversial that the World Cup is being held in the middle of the season, as far as European football is concerned, but FIFA is saying that a normal World Cup takes 32 days but this World Cup Originally it was supposed to take 28 days.
“Now it’s going to take 29 days so it’s still going to be a short World Cup. Secondly, it was a unanimous decision. Ecuador was playing the first game but the South American federation was in favor.
“The Holland game is no longer going to be the first game but UEFA is also in favor of this change. We knew it was going to happen tomorrow but people are still unhappy with the World Cup to be held in the winter.”