COSTA DO SAUIPE, Brazil – FIFA switched the scheduled kickoff times of seven World Cup matches on Saturday after meeting with broadcasters, having refused earlier requests made on behalf of players' health by the FIFPro union.
The main change involves England vs. Italy which was due to start at 3 a.m. Central European Time.
That high-profile match will now kick off three hours earlier at 6 p.m. local time, 11 p.m. in most of Europe.
Two more games in Manaus — Portugal vs. United States and Cameroon vs. Croatia — have been pushed back three hours to 6 p.m. local time.
FIFPro, the international soccer players' union, had pressed FIFA not to have early kickoffs in the hottest and most humid weather conditions, such as those in Manaus.
After FIFA declined to alter the two-year-old match schedule in midweek, FIFPro suggested "that the world's governing football body considers the demands of TV companies of greater importance than the health and safety of the players."
The changes to seven of the 64-match schedule include three later starts in the hottest conditions.
The England-Italy switch on the opening Saturday, June 14, means Ivory Coast vs. Japan will now start at 10 p.m. local time in the tropical coastal climate of Recife.
On Wednesday, June 18, Cameroon-Croatia flips kickoff slots with Spain vs. Chile, which now starts at 4 p.m. in Rio de Janeiro.
Spain's appearance at the Maracana stadium will now start in Spanish prime time instead of midnight back home.
The Portugal-US move forced two other changes on Sunday, June 22.
Belgium vs. Russia will start at 1 p.m. local time in Rio de Janeiro, instead of 7 p.m., which would have required European viewers to stay up well beyond midnight.
South Korea vs. Algeria was moved to 4 p.m. local time in the coolest, most southern World Cup city of Porto Alegre from 1 p.m.