F1 Abu Dhabi finale set for World Cup clash as opening game is brought forward

Formula 1’s best efforts to avoid a clash with the upcoming World Cup in Qatar have been wrecked after the opening game of the tournament was brought forward.

Last season’s F1 campaign had its latest ever finish with the dramatic and controversial title showdown between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen taking place on December 12. Conscious of avoiding a battle for viewing figures with the world’s biggest sporting event – which will take place in the European winter for the first time ever – F1 arranged for the final race, again in nearby Abu Dhabi, to take place much earlier on November 20.

That was originally going to be the day before the start of the World Cup, with the opening game due to be Netherlands vs Senegal on November 21 at 10am UK time.

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But now the tournament will kick off a day earlier, with hosts Qatar’s match against Ecuador kicking off at 4pm UK, two hours after the scheduled start of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. While there should be no direct clash between the race and the match, F1 fans who want to watch the opening ceremony will have a decision to make.

A FIFA statement said: "The decision followed an assessment of the competition and operational implications, as well as a thorough consultation process and an agreement with key stakeholders and the host country.

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“The release period, as previously decided and as governed by the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players, will remain unchanged, beginning on 14 November 2022.

“Ticket holders will be duly notified by email that the relevant matches have been rescheduled and their tickets will remain valid irrespective of the new date/time.”


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