FIFA fires back at criticism of World Cup scheduling
01 Oct 2012
FIFA has strongly denied accusations that the formation of the game schedule for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil has prioritised commercial gain over player welfare.
World football’s governing body on Thursday released details of the calendar for the tournament with tropical cities Natal, Recife and Salvador each hosting two group-stage matches at 13:00 local time (17:00 GMT). The three cities on the northeast coast of Brazil can expect temperatures of around 90 degrees in June. Most kick-off slots in the early stages of the World Cup are at 13:00, 16:00 and 19:00 local time, with the exception of a June 14 game in Manaus that kicks off at 21:00 (02:00 GMT). Staging the first match of each matchday later would have meant pushing the final game into late-night television slots in Europe, which is providing 13 of the 32 competing teams.
Speaking at a press conference at the conclusion of FIFA’s Executive Committee meeting on Friday, secretary general Jerome Valcke expressed his frustration at the ongoing criticism of the organisation of the 2014 World Cup. “I don’t even imagine why and how you could think we are making decisions thinking about television and not about the health of the players,” said Valcke. “The first thing we need is a good World Cup and to have a good World Cup we must make sure we have the best of football. To have the best of football, we need the best teams and the best game. Every decision we make takes into consideration the health of the players.”
Valcke admitted scheduling had proved a challenge in a bid to meet Brazil 2014’s aim of ensuring teams travelled around the country. “We made a decision to play in all of Brazil because that was the request of Brazil,” he said. “You have a country which is not a small country, it is a continent, where it can be two degrees and 26 degrees at the same time on the same day. Then you have to take these teams around the country because it was also a decision not to play in just in one region but to travel all around the country to give all Brazilians the chance to enjoy Germany, Italy and the other top teams.” In other news, FIFA has elected to set prize money for the 2013 Confederations Cup at US$20 million, an increase of $2.4 million compared to the last edition in 2009. Marrakech and Agadir have been confirmed as the two venues for Morocco’s staging of the 2013 Club World Cup.