November 22, 2013 / 6:14 PM / in 4 years

FIFA could rethink midday World Cup starts, Blatter says

ROME (Reuters) - FIFA could reconsider its controversial decision to schedule some of next year’s World Cup matches at midday in tropical venues, the body’s president Sepp Blatter suggested on Friday in an apparent U-turn.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter gives a speech during the final presentation and the announcement of the host nations for the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups in Zurich December 2, 2010. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

Blatter said FIFA had received a number of appeals to rethink its decision which has angered, among others, the world players’ union FIFPro.

“That is a good question, I will take up the question again, we will have a meeting of not only the organizing committee but the FIFA executive committee and (in December) in Salvador (Brazil),” he told reporters.

“We have received different pleas, letters and demands concerning the time schedule which has been established but which has not yet been sanctioned,” he said. “We will speak on that.”

Last year, Blatter shrugged off criticism of the scheduling which would mean matches being played in the hottest part of the day.

“The history of football has shown that great players can play in all conditions,” he said then.

”In Mexico in 1970 and 1986, we played at high noon, at 2,400 meters and the quality of the game did not suffer.

“You know that in difficult conditions you can stop the game, you can cool down, and have drinks. You will remember 25 years ago, the referees said it was forbidden to drink water during the matches and now all that has been changed.”

Although the June 12-July 13 World Cup will take place in southern Brazil’s winter, tropical conditions will prevail in the north of the country where two matches in each of Natal, Salvador and Recife have been scheduled for 1300 local time, plus one in Fortaleza.

There will also be two 1500 kickoffs in Manaus, in the heart of the Amazon rain forest.

Reporting by Naomi O'Leary; Editing by Clare Fallon

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