By Robbie Blakeley, Contributing Sports Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Cariocas run the risk of not seeing the Seleção (Brazilian national team) in action during the 2014 World Cup after FIFA revealed the schedule for the tournament last Thursday, October 20th in Zurich, Switzerland. The twelve host cities were allocated the matches they will host during the competition, with kick-off times, ticket prices and the Confederations Cup also on the agenda.
According to the publicized timetable, the only match that would see Brazil playing in Rio, which will serve as the side’s training camp and concentração during the World Cup, would be the final on July 13th.
Thus, there is a distinct possibility, should the national team fall at an earlier hurdle, that they will not be gracing the newly renovated Maracanã Stadium, set to become one of the leading facilities in world football when it reopens in February 2013.
CBF president Ricardo Teixeira moved to assure Cariocas after the announcement. “If God is willing we will arrive in the final, I am absolutely sure of it,” he said.
Meanwhile Rio, alongside Belo Horizonte, Brasília and Fortaleza, will host Confederations Cup matches in 2013. Recife and Salvador will be used in case of emergency with a decision to be taken in June next year. The announcement’s big winner was Fortaleza, capital of Northeastern state Ceará with the modernized Castelão likely to host at least two of Brazil’s games.
The Seleção will play their second group game at the stadium, and if they qualify from Group A will play their second round or quarterfinal tie there. The chances of Brazil progressing to the knock-out stages are almost odds-on, notwithstanding the fact they are five-time world champions, and since the World Cup’s inauguration in 1930 only one host nation has failed to qualify for the second round, last year’s hosts South Africa.
It was also confirmed yesterday that São Paulo will host the World Cup’s opening match, striking a bitter blow to Rio as it is certain the Paulista capital will see the Seleção in action. Brazil will play their final group game in capital city Brasília.
In total, the Maracanã Stadium, which is being refurbished at a cost of R$1 billion, has been handed seven games for 2014: four group games, one second-round match, a quarterfinal and the final.
The Seleção’s own World Cup journey was mapped accordingly: after their opening three games, Brazil would play a second-round match in either Belo Horizonte or Fortaleza, their quarterfinal in Fortaleza or Salvador, their semifinal in Belo Horizonte or São Paulo and the final at the Maracanã. The third-place playoff will be held in Brasília’s Mané Garrincha Stadium.
Unfortunately, last Thursday’s announcements left fans no clearer as to how much match tickets will cost. Thierry Weil, FIFA’s marketing director, said prices will only be known once Brazil’s “Lei da Copa” (Law of the Cup) is passed. The law is proposing to offer half-price admission to students and senior citizens.
Also divulged yesterday were kick-off times. The tournament’s curtain raiser will kick-off at 5PM, with all other group games starting at either 4PM or 7PM (except on Saturday, June 14th, when the solitary match will commence at 10PM). Second-round and quarterfinal matches will be at 1pm and 5pm, semifinals and the third-place playoff at 5PM, with the final starting at 4PM.