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FIFA picks Nov. 21 as kickoff for shortened World Cup in Qatar

ZURICH — The 2022 World Cup in Qatar will start Monday, Nov. 21, kicking off a 28-day tournament — four days shorter than normal — that will finish on Sunday, Dec. 18.

FIFA’s executive committee confirmed the 2022 dates on Friday, six months after picking Dec. 18 — Qatar’s national holiday — for the final.

In March, FIFA finally decided to switch the 2022 tournament from June-July to avoid Qatar’s summer heat.

A 28-day World Cup is designed to cause less disruption to clubs and leagues that have to shut down for several peak midseason weeks, FIFA said.

FIFA had delayed choosing a kickoff date in Qatar while it held talks on the 2019-2024 schedule of national team fixtures.

The international calendar mandates when clubs must release players for national-team duty.

The calendar approved Friday means clubs must release players to the 32 World Cup teams by Monday, Nov. 14, 2022 — one week before the opening match.

No national team match dates — either qualifiers for continental championships or friendlies — have been set for October 2022.

Instead, the two fixtures typically scheduled in October will be moved forward four months.

That creates a four-match program for national teams, scheduled between May 30 and June 14, 2022 at the end of the European season.

In a minor switch, the September double-header of national team matches will be pushed back two weeks to start on Sept. 20, 2022.