Fans who have been watching matches throughout the World Cup 2022 may have been surprised to tune in this week and not see fixtures kicking off at the same times of day they had been previously.
During the first two rounds of group stage games, the earliest match started at 10am GMT, followed by further fixtures at 1pm, 4pm and 7pm.
It meant a relentless schedule for anyone hoping to tune in for every game and watch every team, especially when some of the opening fixtures saw huge amounts of injury time added on at the end of each half.
However, it has all changed this week as we head into the final round of group games – as well as the knockout stage, which starts at the weekend.
Here’s everything you need to know about the changing kick-off times and when to watch matches in Qatar going forward
Why have World Cup kick-off times changed?
Ultimately, the decision rests with the hosts and FIFA for the organization of the schedule on when games are played.
The non-stop action of the earlier fixtures allows supporters to watch back-to-back games, but the final group stage matches always see all four nations in each group play at the same time, for reasons of sporting integrity.
In addition, once the knockout games begin, more time will be needed in between fixtures in case any go to extra time or penalties, so that matches do not overlap.
When are the last group stage games kicking off?
There are now two matches kicking off at 3pm and another two at 7pm GMT, for the remainder of the group phase.
This ensures nations playing for the same qualification positions play simultaneously and teams do not try to tactically play out a draw or purposely affect the result to try and get themselves a perceived easier tie for the knockout stage.
When and what time are knockout games played?
The round of 16 begins on Saturday 3 December and runs for four days, then the quarter-finals are played on 9 and 10 December. All of these matchdays have two fixtures each, played at 3pm and 7pm GMT.
The semis take place on the 13 and 14 December, kicking off at 7pm GMT on both days, with the final itself a 3pm kick-off on Sunday 18th.