With the Confederations Cup currently being staged in South Africa and the national team performing so well under Fabio Capello, it has been easy over the past week for the eyes of English football fans to be drawn towards next summer’s World Cup.
While it is still unclear exactly which countries will be present in South Africa, what is already known is the match schedule for next June’s extravaganza. The teams playing in each match will only be discovered when the draw for the tournament is made on December 4th, but the dates and times have already been established.
The World kicks-off on Friday June 11th, with the group stage lasting until Friday June 25th. The first knock-out round, in which 16 nations will still be involved, starts a day later on Saturday June 26th and lasts until Tuesday June 29th. The quarter-finals are then on Friday July 2nd and Saturday July 3rd, and the semi-finals on Tuesday July 6th and Wednesday July 7th. The World Cup final, arguably the greatest sporting event in the world, will be on Sunday July 11th.
The times during the day at which these matches will be played are also known, and this is where English football fanatics may start to cringe. The group stage matches will be played at 12.30pm, 3.00pm, and 7.30pm (UK time); meaning only the evening match will be at a time convenient for fans to watch due to work commitments during the day. School kids will also be angry.
Half of the first knockout round matches and quarter-final matches will also be played at 3.00pm UK time, meaning heavyweight clashes between major nations may have to be missed by many. Of course, when England matches are played, no football fan will be working. The nation will sit transfixed no matter what time the game is on.
The World Cup in Germany three years ago was much friendlier to English supporters, and all European supporters as well, as the games kicked-off at 2.00pm, 5.00pm, and 8.00pm. Why there has been a need to change I do not know, especially as South Africa’s time-zone is very similar to Germany’s.
Of course, different countries will suffer these time problems during different World Cups depending on where in the world it is being staged. But considering South Africa’s time-zone is only one hour ahead of England’s in the summer, I think English football fans (and indeed all European fans) have a right to feel a little aggrieved at the match schedule.
Why has it changed from Germany 2006?