The World Cup’s 100-day countdown has been overshadowed by a surprising date change
On Friday, as the 100-day countdown to the World Cup began, FIFA and Qatari organizers tallied the cost of moving the tournament’s start date up by one day.
The governing body of football and the wealthy Gulf state both promised action to aid fans, sponsors, and broadcasters hit by the change, which was announced late Thursday.
The conservative host country is fighting back against criticism of its rights record and fan worries about what to expect during the tournament, and the decision to move the match between Qatar and Ecuador up by 24 hours to make it the gala opening match has only added to the public relations concerns.
Less than three months have passed since we first began. This is completely unexpected. “It’s not a crisis, but it’s a pain,” an executive from one World Cup broadcaster said.
Qatar’s game and the official opening ceremony will be treated as a “standalone” event, FIFA said, citing the unanimous agreement of FIFA president Gianni Infantino and the six heads of continental confederations.
FIFA said in a statement that the move would ensure the continuation of the World Cup’s opening ceremony, which has traditionally been held before the tournament’s first match featuring the hosts or the defending champions.
In the original schedule, the evening of November 21 would have featured Qatar’s opening match against Ecuador, but the day’s play would have begun with Senegal taking on the Netherlands, then England taking on Iran.
Group A’s Senegal vs. Netherlands match has been moved from November 21 at 1:00 p.m. (1000 GMT) to November 21 at 7:00 p.m.
“will remain valid regardless of the new date/time,” FIFA said of the tickets for the affected matches.
In addition, the statement said, “FIFA will seek to address any issues arising from this change on a case-by-case basis.”
Since winning hosting rights in 2010, Qatar has spent billions preparing for the event, and its organizers have welcomed FIFA’s gesture for their “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to host the event.
FIFA considered the effect this choice would have on fans. Organizers also said in a statement, “We will work together to ensure a smooth tournament for the affected supporters,” without providing further context.
Some Ecuadorian fans may have to reschedule their flights in order to get to Qatar in time for the tournament, and football insiders have speculated that commercial contracts for the World Cup may need
The date change would be “a huge problem for sponsors,” according to Ricardo Fort, a consultant in the sports industry and the former head of sports marketing for Coca Cola, a major FIFA backer.
They coordinated with all relevant parties to invite and confirm hospitality guests, arrange transportation, and secure lodging. Totally upending everything is possible! The tweet was posted by Fort.
Nonetheless, some businesses associated with the tournament were confident that any difficulties could be worked around. This was the first time the World Cup had been held in an Arab country.
Match Hospitality’s chairman, Jaime Byrom, said, “It is something we will deal with.” The company has a contract with FIFA to organize hospitality packages for World Cup matches and has secured 450,000 tickets for the tournament.
Byrom told AFP that the issue wasn’t “particularly large,” especially when put in context with other challenges.
“In this case, we will be monitoring our international Ecuadorian clientele to ensure that they arrive in time for the game.”
Timer displays at venues marking the 100-day mark were hastily rescheduled from Saturday to Friday.
Because of the extreme heat in Qatar, FIFA has already made significant concessions by moving the tournament to the winter months for the first time.
The massive preparations have also brought attention to the rights of LGBTQ visitors and the treatment of migrant workers in Qatar. Homosexuality is punishable by law, and alcohol is strictly regulated, in this Muslim country.
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