Why have World Cup match kick-off times changed?

Fans who watched matches during the 2022 World Cup may have been surprised to tune in this week and not see the matches start at the same time of day as before.

During the first two rounds of group stage matches, the first match started at 10:00 GMT, followed by further matches at 1:00 PM, 4:00 PM and 7:00 PM.

It meant a brutal schedule for anyone hoping to tune into every game and watch every team, especially when huge amounts of stoppage time were added at the end of each half during some of the opening games.

However, it’s all changed this week as we head into the final round of group matches – as well as the knockout stage, which kicks off over the weekend.

Here’s everything you need to know about the changing starting times and when to watch matches in Qatar in the future.

Why have the starting times of the World Cup changed?

Ultimately, the decision rests with the hosts and FIFA for the organization of the schedule when matches are played.

The non-stop action of the earlier matches allows supporters to watch back-to-back matches, but the final group stage matches always have all four countries in each group playing at the same time, for reasons of sporting integrity.

In addition, once the knockout matches begin, there will be more time between matches in case extra time or penalties are needed, so that matches do not overlap.

When do the last matches in the group stage start?

There are now two matches starting at 3pm GMT and another two at 7pm GMT for the rest of the group stage.

This ensures that countries playing for the same qualifying positions play at the same time and that teams do not tactically try to play out a draw or deliberately influence the result to try and get a supposedly easier draw for the knockout stages.

When and what time are knockout matches played?

The eighth finals start on Saturday December 3 and last four days, after which the quarter finals will be played on December 9 and 10. All these matchdays will have two games each, played at 3pm and 7pm GMT.

The semi-finals will take place on December 13 and 14, starting at 19:00 GMT on both days, with the final itself at 15:00 on Sunday, December 18.

The full schedule of all World Cup matches can be found here.

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Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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