World Cup teams and supporters
face a marathon of travelling after organisers decided countries
must play their group games in different venues around Brazil at
the 2014 World Cup.
Rio de Janeiro was confirmed as the venue for the final and
Sao Paulo was awarded the opening match featuring Brazil, even
though it has barely started work on its Itaquerao stadium.
Sao Paulo and Belo Horizonte will stage the semi-finals and
the capital Brasilia will get the third-place play-off after the
match schedule was announced at a brief, televised ceremony at
the headquarters of world governing body FIFA on Thursday.
Matches will kick off at 16:00, 19:00 and 22:00 GMT.
The surprise was that organisers decided against basing
teams in single venues, which means some must travel thousands
of kilometres between matches in one of the world's biggest countries.
It had been expected teams would play their group matches in
two venues at most to cut down travelling in a country
over-dependant on air transport which is limited and unreliable.
"The teams will travel around the country so that not just
the biggest cities get the best teams," said Ricardo Teixeira,
president of the local organising committee and Brazilian FA.
The team eventually drawn as number two in Group A will have
to play in Sao Paulo in the South-east, then travel to Manaus, a
three-and-a-half-hour flight away, and finally Recife.
Flights between Manaus and Recife nearly always involve a
connection, taking a total of six to nine hours.
The road journey is 5,700-km long according to Brazil's
The team drawn as number four in Group D might have to play
their first game in Cuiaba, where temperatures in June can top
30 Celsius, and their second in Porto Alegre, where temperatures
can drop to near freezing.
"It's a big task and a long job, we had 57 versions of the
match schedule," said FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke.
"We took into account medical factors, logistics, travel and
Many other teams face at least one long flight in their
schedules while fans may struggle to get on a plane at all due
to the limited supply of seats.
Brazilian authorities have already admitted the country's
outdated airports are the biggest worry facing the tournament.
Sao Paulo, Brazil's largest city, was in danger of missing
out on the tournament last year after its original venue, the
Morumbi, was ruled out because local authorities could not
provide financial guarantees for the stadium reform.
It was then decided to use the new Itaquerao stadium being
planned by Corinthians though work on that only started in June.
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