I don't know how anybody can remain confused after the details are released: The heat is on as FIFA announces draw procedure.
The group you are in determines where you play, which involves both travel and climate considerations:
The seeded team in Group H will have a relatively easy first round schedule with matches in the milder conditions of Belo Horizonte, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.
But the seeds in Group G will play in the intense heat of northeastern cities Fortaleza, Natal, Salvador or Recife.
The travel issues are substantial, and add to the controversy:
In such a vast country, there was an early plan to revert to the arrangements once used in World Cups where teams were based in one region instead of travelling all over the country but Brazilian organisers did not want one region to stage all of Brazil's first round games.
As that was not politically expedient, FIFA agreed every team had to travel all over, resulting in the huge distances covered, apart from those in Group H where the venues are relatively close.
The locations are relevant because the game times are set on a perhaps unexpected basis:
From June 12 until June 22 when there are three matches a day -- the programme switches to four a day from June 23 to June 26 for the last round of group games -- matches are due to start at 1pm, 4pm and 7pm local time which is 1600GMT, 1900GMT and 2200GMT to maximise European television audiences.In my time zone, I think that means that the games are at 8 AM, 11 AM, and 2 PM.
However, the early kickoff time has sparked some unease as it will be very hot in the northeast at that time of day.
Hmmm... those 11 AM games should make for fine lunchtime viewing!
It's important not to get confused about what time it is:
From June 23 until June 26 a pair of games will kick off at 1pm and the other pair at the same time later in the afternoon, although the clock will show 4pm in one stadium and 5pm at the other because they are in different time zones.
So there you go:
- The games won't be played at a convenient location for your team
- The games won't be played at a convenient time for your team
- Your team will have to travel extensively throughout the fifth largest country in the world
- Your team will have to face the very best teams as opponents
- And all of the above is true, no matter which team you back
It's hard to imagine a better outcome, really!