World Cup times may test loyalty
European football fans face the prospect of watching World Cup games at 3am after FIFA revealed the kick-off times for the Brazil showpiece in two years time.
FIFA's executive committee has announced that the opening match of the 20th World Cup will take place in Sao Paolo on June 12, 2014, with a local kick-off time of 5pm.
The largest city in Brazil, Sao Paolo is five hours behind Central European Time, with host cities Cuiaba and Manaus further west and consequently an extra hour behind. Belo Horizonte, Brasilia, Curitiba, Fortaleza, Natal, Porto Alegre, Recife, Rio de Janeiro and Salvador will also host games and fall in line with Sao Paolo.
A statement released by FIFA today read: "Group-stage games will be played at 1pm, 4pm, 5pm, 6pm, 7pm and 9pm local time, with knockout stage matches at 1pm and 5pm local time.
"The semi-finals will be played at 5pm local time and the final, on July 13, at the iconic Maracana stadium (in Rio de Janeiro), at 4pm local time.
"All kick-offs are local time, with Cuiaba and Manaus being Central European Time -6, all other venues CET -5."
Central European Time covers the majority of western Europe - including Spain, France, Italy and Germany - with the United Kingdom and Portugal conforming to Western European Time, which is one hour behind.
The 1994 tournament, held in the United States and won by Brazil, was the first World Cup to host matches in different time zones.
The statement also explains how FIFA took local temperatures, global television scheduling and equal rest periods for teams into consideration, among other factors, when defining the kick-off times.
The final draw for the group stages will take place on December 6, 2013 in Bahia.
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