FIFA switches late England-Italy WCup kickoff time

FIFA switched the scheduled kickoff times of seven World Cup

matches on Saturday after meeting with broadcasters, having refused

earlier requests made by the FIFPro union to protect players’

health.

The main change involves England vs. Italy which was due to

start at 9 p.m. local time (0100 GMT, 0300 Central European

Time).

That high-profile match will now kick off three hours earlier at

6 p.m. local time (2200 GMT; 0000 CET) in the hot and humid

Amazonian jungle city of Manaus.

Two more games in Manaus – Portugal vs. United States and

Cameroon vs. Croatia – have been moved from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. local

time.

FIFPro, the international footballers’ union, had pressed FIFA

not to have the earliest kickoffs in the hottest and most humid

weather conditions.

After FIFA declined midweek to alter the two-year-old match

schedule, FIFPro suggested ”that the world’s governing football

body considers the demands of TV companies of greater importance

than the health and safety of the players.”

The changes to seven of the 64-match schedule include three

later starts in the hottest conditions.

The England-Italy switch on the opening Saturday, June 14, means

Ivory Coast vs. Japan will now start at 10 p.m. local time (0100

GMT) in the tropical coastal climate of Recife.

On Wednesday, June 18, Cameroon-Croatia flips kickoff slots with

Spain vs. Chile, which now starts at 4 p.m. (1900 GMT) in Rio de

Janeiro. That means Spain’s appearance at the Maracana stadium will

now start in Spanish prime time instead of midnight back home.

The Portugal-US move forced two other changes on Sunday, June

22.

Belgium vs. Russia will start at 1 p.m. local time (1600 GMT) in

Rio de Janeiro, instead of 7 p.m., which would have required

European viewers to stay up well beyond midnight.

South Korea vs. Algeria was moved to 4 p.m. local time (1900

GMT) in the coolest, most southern World Cup city of Porto Alegre

from 1 p.m.