Qatar has 12 years to plan the World Cup. Now, with the tournament’s first games just 100 days away and with the complicated match schedule announced months ago, organizers have requested changes that will take the event a day earlier to give the host nation a special place in the opening game. So to receive.
In recent years, the World Cup host nation has appeared as the headliner in the tournament’s first match, the elaborate opening ceremony of the month-long event. But this year, breaking with that tradition, organizers took the unusual step of scheduling Qatar’s first game as the third of four matches on November 21, the busy first day of competition.
Now a proposal to move Qatar’s game to 20 November has been sent to the most senior officials of FIFA, soccer’s global governing body and the organizers of the World Cup. Those officials, a group that includes the leaders of football’s six global federations and the FIFA president, Gianni Infantino, will decide whether to accept it.
It is unclear why the organizers – and FIFA – had not originally planned for Qatar to play in the opening game of the tournament, reserving a stage for each tournament host since the 2006 World Cup was staged in Germany. was. Prior to this, the defending champion was customarily awarded the inaugural honor of the tournament.
“It has been a long tradition to mark the start of the FIFA World Cup with an opening ceremony on the occasion of the first match, involving the hosts or defending champions, a factor that is considered to have significant value from a ceremonial, cultural and commercial approach,” FIFA wrote in a letter to bureau members that was reviewed by The New York Times.
In addition to changing the date of Qatar’s opening game against Ecuador, the proposed adjustment would affect another match set for the tournament’s opening day: Senegal’s game against the Netherlands, which was moved from the afternoon time slot to the evening window. Will go
Planning for the Qatar World Cup has gone awry. Granting hosting rights to Qatar eventually required FIFA to move the event to the Northern Hemisphere winter as summer temperatures in the Gulf were considered a potential health risk to players, officials and the hundreds of thousands of fans expected at the tournament.
The switch has changed the football calendar, causing an unprecedented midseason halt to the European league season and other competitions around the world. Negotiations with clubs – furious about week-long disruptions to their league schedules and televised contracts – resulted in the tournament being played in fewer days (28) than any other event since it was expanded to 32 teams in 1998.
“As the tournament draws closer, the FIFA Administration is now fully aware of the various sporting, operational, commercial and legal implications of this uniquely narrowed programme,” FIFA wrote in its letter.
FIFA told officials it wanted the change to be approved by European time by Thursday evening.
The sudden change in the date of the opening match has added to concerns about Qatar’s World Cup preparations. Already fans are complaining about the lack of accommodation and lack of clarity on alcohol consumption during the tournament.
Should the switch to the opening match be approved, foreign ticket-holders who had planned to participate would face the potential challenge of changing their travel plans and rebooking hotel rooms, and in European leagues. Any player competing – Ecuador has at times a dime a dozen – will have less than a day to travel and prepare.
The plan has already caused uneasiness among ticket holders, with proposed changes making certain combinations of games impossible to attend at all, but impossible for visitors to attend. New York-based Martin Bauza told The Times that he had secured tickets for the game between Senegal and the Netherlands and the United States opener with Wales later that day. FIFA changed Senegal’s game to a later slot, meaning it would not be able to participate in both games, with the second game starting an hour after the first ended.
“I bought Senegal/Netherlands specifically because of the time difference between matches and according to FIFA ticket rules, which require 4 hours between matches (ie, cannot buy tickets for back to back matches) which Now the scenario is what I have to deal with,” Bouza said in a message.
World Cup organizers said they had consulted with Qatar and the football associations of the two affected teams before proposing changes. Its letter suggested that neither national team objected to the change.
Separately, a FIFA Appeals Committee is considering an appeal by Chile to exclude Ecuador from the World Cup, alleging that Ecuador had fielded an ineligible player. Many Ecuadorian players based in Europe will have only six days to prepare for the tournament, which is less than any other player in the World Cup.
“The FIFA Administration has assessed the commercial and legal implications of the proposal – including the impact on contract commitments of media rights, sponsorship, and tickets and hospitality as well as the impact on traveling fans, and determined that any Also the risk is substantially higher than the value and benefits of the offers,” FIFA said in the letter.