Brazil 2014: kick-off times around the world

Brazil 2014: kick-off times around the world

FIFA have announced the kick-off times for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. At the time of posting, the tournament is nearly 20 months away and we only know one of the teams that will be taking part (the host) but it’s not too early to start planning how we can fit the 64 matches into our lives. This post aims to help you find out the kick-off times for your time zone and how convenient they are.

Brazil is split into two time zones. Of the host cities, Cuiabá and Manaus are in the west of the country and are 4 hours behind UTC (Coordinated Universal Time, which is equal to GMT). The other 10 host cities are in the east of Brazil, mostly on the Atlantic coast, and are 3 hours behind UTC. The matches kick-off at eight different times from a local point of view but some are equivalent (e.g. 1500 in west Brazil = 1600 in the east) so only five different times from the point of view of a fixed time zone.

Some Brazilian states adjust their clocks for daylight saving in summer and some do not but the World Cup is taking place in the Southern Hemisphere winter so the clocks in Brazil are as normal. Daylight savings in the Northern Hemisphere are taken into account e.g. the UK will be British Summer Time = GMT+1.

I use a colour scheme to mark the time of day in each of the world’s time zones at a given moment (it’s the same colouring I used in 2011 for the Copa America). It assumes a working day of 9am to 5pm. Working hours are coloured purple, sleeping hours are coloured dark grey, the best times for watching football are gold and the iffy border hours are shades between those.

This won’t apply as well to you if your schedule is vastly different to 9 to 5. On the right of the graphic below you can see the proportion of matches that are on weekdays and weekends to find out how much you should worry about the purple areas. Again this makes an assumption: that you work Monday to Friday.

Here’s how you use the graphic to find out what time of the day in your time zone the matches of Brazil 2014 will be taking place:

1. Find your time zone by matching the map to the numbers beneath it given in negative and positive hours from UTC i.e. -12 to +12  (the map uses a separate set of colours with no meaning other than to split the world up into time zones).

2. Follow your time zone straight down to see the hours that matches will start from your point of view for the different kick-off times in Brazil – these are hours of the day in 24 hour format i.e. 0 to 23.

3. Use the colours of these kick-off times to see at a glance how convenient the times are.


An example

Someone who lives in China learns from the map that they are in the UTC+8 zone so they read down from the 8 in the blue box roughly beneath China. The first number below their 8 at the bottom of the map is a 0 telling them that the 24 matches kicking off in the east of Brazil at 1300 start at midnight in China. Tracking straight down from this we pass 3, 4, 6 and 9 telling them the other matches will start at 3am, 4am, 6am and 9am from their point of view. Most of those numbers are in grey or greyish boxes which lets them see immediately that the World Cup will be in the dead of night or early morning with the best matches being the 10 that kick-off at 6am that can be fitted in before work.

Some analysis

The first thing that jumps out is the 24 matches that start at 1300 local time and are not confined to weekends – five sevenths are on weekdays. This means that games will conflict with work for many in Brazil but it works out very nicely for TV revenue as these games will be in the early evening in Europe. By no accident, Western Europe fairs very well indeed with the majority of matches being in the golden hours. Those, like me, in UTC+1 only have to worry about getting out of work in time so as not to miss the start of those 24 early matches and staying up to watch the solitary match that starts at 2am (and that’s on a Saturday). Other than that, everything is pretty handy for my time zone and the others that cover Europe. Africa also benefits from the pro-Europe scheduling, sitting as it does in the same time zones.

Kick-offs would have to be rescheduled at very inconvenient local times to offer any kind of compromise to satisfy the huge populations of the eastern parts of Asia which get a pretty rough deal with matches taking place primarily in the wee hours. Australasia will suffer similar inconvenience.

For the Americas, the worry will be football clashing with work rather than sleep. Efficiently, much of the rest of the purple area is taken up by the sparsely populated Pacific.