Qatar will kick off the 2022 World Cup at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, organisers announced, as they revealed the schedule for the finals.
In a joint statement, FIFA and Qatar’s Supreme Committee organisational body said that the gas-rich Gulf nation will start the World Cup at the 60,000-capacity ground on November 21.
Four matches will be played each day during the group stage of the 2022 Qatar World Cup, with kick-offs for the first two rounds of matches planned for 10am, 1pm and 4pm and 7pm Irish time.
The group games will be played over a 12-day period, with matches not being assigned to particular venues until after the finals draw in March 2022 in order to choose optimal kick-off times to suit television audiences in different countries, as well as supporters out in Qatar.
With the stadiums all within a 40-mile radius of each other, it will enable supporters and media to realistically attend two games on the same day.
For all but three games there will be a three-day rest period in between. There will also be no need for teams, supporters or media to spend time flying or taking long rail or road journeys between matches.
Kick-off times in the final round of group games and knockout round matches will be at 3pm and 7pm Irish time.
The tournament’s opening match will be played at the Al Bayt stadium in Al Khor on Monday, 21 November in a match which will feature the host country.
The final will be held at the 80,000-seat Lusail Stadium in Doha nearly a month later on December 18.
A start date has not yet been fixed for the European section of World Cup qualification. The announcement comes two years to the day since the 2018 World Cup final.
Qualification for the World Cup has begun in Asia and Africa but is yet to start in Europe, the Americas and Oceania. Organisers said on Wednesday that the draw for the finals would be made “after the March 2022 international match calendar qualifying window”.
Both the Al Bayt and Lusail stadiums are still under construction, although the Al Bayt ground — which takes its shape from the traditional tents used by nomadic peoples in the Gulf region — is nearing completion, according to World Cup organisers.
Recently, rights group Amnesty International claimed that around a hundred migrant workers at the Al-Bayt stadium, which is 50 kilometres north of Doha, have yet to receive outstanding wages in full after not being paid for up to seven months.
Earlier this month several sources told AFP that World Cup organisers will lay off an undisclosed number of staff as Qatar cuts costs amid the coronavirus economic downturn.
Qatar has one of the world’s highest per capita infection rates.