FIFA released the schedule -- dates, kickoff times and venues -- for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and immediately came under attack for scheduling games as early as 1 p.m local time.
While the tournament, which runs June 12-July 13, will take place in the heart of Brazil's winter, conditions are problematic for early afternoon matches in such tropical venues as Natal, Recife and Salvador, and the capital Brasilia, where the dry and dusty air can make it very difficult for those with respiratory problems to breathe in winter.
FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke defended the decision to not push more games into the later part of the day and evening.
"I don't even imagine why and how you could think we are making decisions thinking about the television and not thinking about the health of the players," Valcke said. "The first thing we need is a good World Cup and to have a good World Cup we must make sure we have the best of football and to have the best of football, we need the best teams and the best game."
Local kickoff times are good news for American viewers who want to spend their afternoons watching the World Cup. They translate to television kickoff times of noon, 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. ET for most of the first round and noon and 4 p.m. ET for most of the knockout phase.
Add six hours to these times, and you get an idea of what the complaints are about. They ensure most games will kick off from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. in Europe -- prime time viewing for the World Cup's most lucrative market.
(Click here for World Cup 2014 schedule.)
KAKA RECALL. Real Madrid star Kaka, who has played in the last three World Cups for Brazil but has not made an international appearance in more than two years, was called up for friendlies against Iraq in Sweden on Oct. 11 and Japan in Poland five days later.
Said Coach Mano Menezes, "We have been following his progress. In terms of training, of dedication, the standard which he has reached gives us hope that he will play well when he is picked for Brazil. It's important to have players with this type of career and experience... I think he is going to confirm what we have been hearing, that he is getting better."
Mano added that Kaka could work with Oscar in midfield and be teamed with the young Chelsea star in at least one of the friendlies. "Kaka has been working in a more advanced position on the field," he said. "It's not exactly the same role which Oscar plays in the national team."
'LOLLIPOP' INJURED. Chile, which is in a battle to qualify for the World Cup in the South American zone, got bad news ahead of its tough October qualifiers at Ecuador and at home against Argentina.
Humberto Suazo, nicknamed "Lollipop," will miss both matches after suffering a thigh muscle injury playing in Mexico. American fans will know the shaven-headed striker for his play in the Concacaf Champions League with champion Monterrey.
Chile lost its last game at home to Colombia, 3-1, and dropped to fifth place in the South America zone.
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