FIFA is set to end years
of intrigue on Thursday when it announces which Brazilian
cities will stage which matches at the 2014 World Cup including
the opening game and the final.
Rio de Janeiro's Maracana stadium is seen as certain to get
the final, the self-styled 'Marvellous City' having already been
named as host for the International Broadcast Centre.
However, there is still great anticipation over which city
will stage the prestigious opening game, the lobbying having
started virtually the minute Brazil was confirmed as host nation
four years ago.
Sao Paulo is seen as the favourite, despite delays in the
construction of the new Itaquerao stadium, while Fortaleza and
Brasilia are also vying for the honour.
The semi-finals and quarter-finals are also up for grabs as
well as all the group games.
Brazilian media said that over the last few months, the
organising committee has produced 57 possible versions of the
fixture list before reaching the one which will be presented to
the world on Thursday.
The announcement will also answer doubts over the amount of
travelling teams and their supporters will have to do between
the 12 venue cities which extend from Manaus in the heart of the
Amazon basin to Porto Alegre in the far south.
In 1998, FIFA has ditched the concept that teams should be
based on one venue for the group stage and has sent them
cavorting around the various hosts nations since then.
However, Brazil's sheer size combined with severely limited
transport options is likely to force FIFA to use the old system.
With the tournament being played in winter, teams forced to
play at different ends of the country could also face huge
changes in playing conditions, with tropical weather in the
north and chilly temperatures in the south.
FIFA are expected to announce that matches in the tropical
north and north-east will be played in the evening with afternoon
kick-offs in the south.
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