A last-minute change of the tournament’s start date was only the latest bit of uncertainty to surround soccer’s showcase event.

At a flashy ceremony on Nov. 21 last year, some of Qatar’s most senior officials, including the Gulf nation’s prime minister, joined the FIFA president Gianni Infantino, top soccer executives and invited guests for a celebration. They gathered on Doha’s corniche, the sweeping promenade that hugs the city’s shimmering waterfront, to unveil an ornate countdown clock and to mark a milestone: the day they were celebrating was precisely one year before the opening of the 2022 World Cup.

Infantino, who now resides in Qatar, offered exultant praise for his hosts. He said their preparations for the event — roughly $200 billion in investments since Qatar was awarded the tournament in 2010 — were beyond compare: So good, in fact, that Infantino, a veteran soccer administrator, declared that he had “never witnessed anything like what is happening here.”

Infantino’s bullish language might now better describe something few in soccer have seen before: the state of uncertainty and rising concern that surrounds several elements of the tournament affecting fans, sponsors and broadcasters. Not least of them? That they just agreed to change the day the World Cup will actually begin.

World Cup organizers made an unprecedented and stunning request to reschedule the start date of the tournament in order to give Qatar, as the host, pride of place in the opening match. The request was approved unanimously on Thursday, only months before the tournament and a matter of hours before a series of events marking 100 days to kickoff were set to begin.

Moving the date of the opening game, and shifting the kickoff time of another match the next day, will disrupt plans made by teams, fans, sponsors and broadcasters and even the tournament’s marketing staff, which has spent millions of dollars buying advertising space around the world to mark the 100-day countdown to the World Cup — a day now shifted forward — in signage wrapping buses and taxis in major capital cities around the world. All of those campaigns, as of Thursday, now have the wrong start date for the tournament.

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