FIFA may reconsider its decision to schedule some of Brazil’s 2014 World Cup matches in the early afternoon at tropical venues, according to president Sepp Blatter.
FIFA has previously strongly denied accusations that the formation of the game schedule for the World Cup has prioritised commercial gain over player welfare. Tropical cities Natal, Recife and Salvador will each host 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. Blatter said on Friday that FIFA had received a number of appeals to rethink its decision. “That is a good question, I will take up the question again, we will have a meeting of not only the organising committee but the FIFA executive committee and (in December) in Salvador,” he said, according to Reuters. “We have received different pleas, letters and demands concerning the time schedule which has been established but which has not yet been sanctioned. We will speak on that.”
FIFPro secretary general Theo van Seggelen in September stated football stakeholders should be more concerned by potential heat issues at next year’s World Cup, with Qatar’s 2022 tournament currently at the centre of debate. The world players’ union believes the furore surrounding Qatar 2022 is putting more immediate concerns in the shadows, including third-party ownership of players and the transfer system. FIFA had said scheduling proved a challenge in a bid to meet Brazil 2014’s aim of ensuring teams travelled around the country. FIFPro is said to be awaiting a detailed report about conditions in Brazil, but Van Seggelen has hinted the organisation could take a stronger stance in future after FIFA failed to consult players over scheduling for the 2014 World Cup. “Unfortunately, we are going to have to start playing hardball, not because we want to but because we have no other choice,” he added.
In other news, Blatter said that France and Germany should also be held accountable over the controversial subject of the treatment of migrant workers in Qatar as they exerted political pressure to award the 2022 World Cup to the Gulf state. Blatter said financial interests drove Europe’s two largest economies to lobby for a Qatar tournament and that construction companies were ultimately responsible for the treatment of their workers, adding “most” large firm working on Qatar’s huge infrastructure development were European. Blatter said the vote to award the tournament to Qatar was influenced by “political pressure from European countries…because there were so many economic interests.” “Two of these countries pressured the voting men in FIFA: France and Germany…I think the heads of state of these two countries should also express what they think of this situation,” he continued. Blatter’s comments came after the European Parliament on Thursday urged FIFA to pressure Qatar to address labour conditions in infrastructure under construction ahead of the World Cup. The FIFA president added: “It’s easy to say all the responsibilities lie on FIFA. No, no, we are part of this responsibility.”