"The ceremony and the opening match of the competition at the Al Beyt stadium have thus been brought forward by one day on a unanimous decision of the Bureau of the FIFA Council today," said Fifa.

As a result, the match between the host country and Ecuador, originally scheduled for November 21, will therefore take place on November 20 at 7 p.m. local time (1600 GMT) at the Al-Bayt stadium in Al-Khor, north of Doha, while the match between Senegal and the Netherlands, originally scheduled for 1:00 p.m. local time (10:00 GMT) on Monday, November 21, was postponed to 7:00 p.m. the same day.

This decision will revive a recent tradition in which the first match of each World Cup is played by the host country, such as Russia-Saudi Arabia in the 2018 edition.

It was taken "following an assessment of the sporting and operational implications of this reprogramming, as well as an exhaustive consultation process and agreement with the main stakeholders and the host country, which then resulted in an agreement", explains the FIFA.

“Ticket holders will be duly informed by email of the new schedule of the matches concerned, for which their tickets remain valid. In addition, FIFA will endeavor to resolve any problems caused by this change on a case-by-case basis”, is it added.

The body finally specifies that the period of provision of players will remain unchanged, always starting on November 14, 2022.

changing the countdown

On the side of the economic partners, this very unusual change will be "managed", assured Wednesday Jaime Byrom, president of Match Hospitality, a company having an agreement with Fifa to organize accommodation packages for World Cup matches and which has reserved 450,000 tickets for the tournament.

"Compared to other challenges that we might have faced or have faced in the past, it's really not a very big problem," Byrom told AFP.

"We will look at our Ecuadorian customers who are traveling from abroad, and make sure they are in time for the match," he said.

The opening match is scheduled for the 60,000-capacity Al-Bayt Stadium, one of seven new venues built specifically for the tournament since the World Cup was awarded to Qatar in 2010.

The gas-rich Gulf state is preparing a spectacular opening ceremony for the World Cup in this stadium, the structure of which was inspired by the traditional tents of the Gulf's Bedouins.

The change in date for the opening match involves a change to the 100-day countdown to the World Cup which was due to kick off on Saturday, with events staged that day across the 2.8 million emirate inhabitants, approximately 90% of whom are foreigners.

Qatar is the first country in the Middle East to host one of the biggest sporting events in the world.

The competition has been moved from summer to late autumn 2022 due to extreme temperatures in the Gulf emirate.

While Fifa President Gianni Infantino has promised Qatar will host the "best" World Cup ever, the country has come under heavy criticism over the rights of migrant workers as well as for its criminalization of homosexuality.

© 2022 AFP