The opening match of this year’s World Cup, between hosts Qatar and Ecuador, will be moved up one day to November 20, according to World Cup sources.
The move, which should be approved by the FIFA Council before the 100-day countdown begins this week, will keep the tradition of the host country playing first.
The first game will be played on November 21 between Senegal and the Netherlands, followed by the official inauguration match between Qatar and Ecuador later that day.
According to World Cup sources, confirmation of the change is expected soon. FIFA and the Qatari organising committee did not respond to requests for comment.
“There were discussions and agreement between the two respective teams, and there was a request from CONMEBOL – the South American confederation,” a World Cup source told AFP on condition of anonymity because no official decision had been made.
“We wanted to follow tradition by having either the reigning champions or the host country play in the first match,” the source explained.
Another tournament source told AFP that “any disruption will be dealt with so that the impact is minimal” for fans who have tickets for the November 21 game.
The match between the Netherlands and Senegal would be moved from 1:00pm (1000 GMT) on November 21 to 7:00pm. “It is a better slot for both teams in terms of television and other areas,” a World Cup source said.