The controversial football World Cup in Qatar is now getting a real opening game and will start a day earlier than previously planned. As announced by world governing body FIFA, the opening ceremony is to take place on November 20th, followed by the opening match between hosts Qatar and Ecuador at 7:00 p.m. local time. This decision was taken after a unanimous vote by the FIFA Council Committee.
Hosts Qatar want to host their opening game on November 20th as the sole highlight. The encounter was originally planned a day later as the third game, with Senegal and the Netherlands actually supposed to open the World Cup on November 21 at 1 p.m. local time. This game is now to be kicked off at 7:00 p.m. instead. 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 hosts 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 started with several matches at the same time. 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, France at the World Cup in Japan and South Korea for the last time. Germany opened the 2006 World Cup by beating Costa Rica 4-2 as hosts.