Brazil unveils 2014 World Cup schedule
Brazil’s 2014 World Cup will see potential travel trauma for fans – and the latest kick-off times ever for a finals tournament with matches starting as late as 10pm, or 2am in Ireland.
FIFA have performed a U-turn on promises to cluster teams in sectors to minimise travel distances. Instead, it was announced today that teams will play each group match in a different city – some up to 2,000 miles apart.
The group stages will see matches kicking off at four different times – 1pm, 4pm, 7pm and 10pm, with the British summer time equivalent being four hours later.
The knockout stages will be more suited to European prime time, with the latest kick-off being 5pm in Brazil, or 9pm in the Republic of Ireland. The final in Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana Stadium will take place at 4pm – 8pm BST.
The distances that fans may have to travel could be a major concern. For example, one team in Group A will have to play the opening match of the tournament in Sao Paulo, their second match 2,000 miles away in Manaus, and the third in Recife – another three-and-a-half-hour flight away, or a 5,700-kilometres road trip through the Amazon jungle.
FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke said: “The teams will travel around so the host cities will have all the teams, and you can have the best teams, the seeded teams in all the cities.”
Last year, Valcke said they would consider splitting Brazil into four regions, rather than having teams travel around the entire country.
He said then: “Brazil is a continent, not just a country, so we may divide it into four pieces to make sure that fans do not have to travel (fly) more than one or two hours from one stadium to the other.”
Organisers said the decision to move the teams between the different areas of the country was partly to ensure that individual sides did not benefit from playing games all in the cooler climate of the south of Brazil.
Ricardo Trade, head of operations for the 2014 World Cup, said: “The climate is so different you do not want to give an advantage to one country over another.”