The controversial World Cup in Qatar will start on November 20th, one day earlier than originally planned.
Then the opening ceremony and at 7:00 p.m. (5:00 p.m. CET) the opening game between hosts Qatar and Ecuador are planned, as the world association FIFA announced on Thursday evening.
This decision was taken after a unanimous vote by the FIFA Council Committee.
The FIFA Council and confederation presidents had previously discussed a request from the hosts to host their opening game on November 20 as the sole highlight.
FIFA has now announced that the World Cup "starts with an even greater spectacle for domestic and foreign fans, as hosts Qatar are now playing exclusively on Sunday".
No change in DFB games
The game was originally scheduled to be the third game on November 21, with the World Cup scheduled to begin with the match between Senegal and the Netherlands on November 21 at 1:00 p.m. local time (11:00 a.m. CET).
The game is now scheduled to kick off at 7:00 p.m. (5:00 p.m. CET) that day.
The change should not affect the other World Cup games, including the German group games against Japan (November 23), Spain (November 27) and Costa Rica (December 1).
Nothing should change in the clubs' official release period, which begins on November 14.
FIFA said the decision was in line with "well-established tradition" whereby World Cups begin with an opening ceremony followed by a match involving either the host or the defending champions.
The tickets for the games should therefore remain valid, and FIFA wants to solve problems with them “on a case-by-case basis”.
The final of the World Cup is scheduled for December 18th, so the tournament now lasts 29 days.
In 2015, FIFA decided to move the World Cup from summer to winter.
Temperatures in Qatar are around 40 degrees during the traditional World Cup months of June and July.
The World Cup in Qatar is controversial for a variety of reasons.
The emirate is heavily criticized for human rights violations and the treatment of foreign workers.
The history of the official opening matches only began in 1966 – before that, the World Cup finals often featured simultaneous matches.
From 1958 to 1970, the host always opened the tournament, after a change in the statutes, the world champion had the honor from 1974 to 2002, most recently France at the World Cup in Japan and South Korea.
Germany opened the 2006 World Cup by beating Costa Rica 4-2 as hosts.
The short-term change in the World Cup schedule a good three months before the start of the tournament is extremely unusual from the point of view of Dutch national coach Louis van Gaal.
"It is remarkable that the schedule is changed so close to the tournament," said the former Bayern coach.
The Netherlands' game against Senegal is still scheduled for November 21, but is now set to kick off six hours later.
Van Gaal sees advantages and disadvantages for his team.
"It's an advantage for us that it won't be as warm in the stadium at the new kick-off time because the sun has already set," said the 71-year-old.
On the other hand, it is a disadvantage that the other Dutch group opponents Qatar and Ecuador have a longer break due to the move forward.
For Dutch fans at home, Van Gaal sees the new kick-off time as an advantage: "It's easier to watch a game at 5 p.m. on Monday afternoon than at 11 a.m. on Monday morning," he said, referring to the time difference that applies in winter of two hours.