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World Cup teams face games at tropical venues

Most of the 64 games will take place in the afternoon which is unlikely to be a problem in the cooler south but could subject players to searing heat in the tropical north and north-east.

The months of June and July represent the winter in the south but conditions are tropical further north.

With most of Brazil three hours behind GMT, the times are favourable for European television viewers who will be able to watch matches in the evening.

Asian viewers must stay up until the middle of the night but those who will suffer the most are the footballers.

Two matches in the north-eastern city of Natal, one of several venues where new stadia are being constructed, have been scheduled for 13:00 local time (16:00 GMT), as have two in nearby Recife and two in Salvador.

Manaus, in the heart of the Amazon rain forest, will stage two games at 15:00 local time and one at 16:00. The final at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro will be played at 16:00 on July 13.

The start times were approved by FIFA's executive committee at a meeting on Thursday.

"When defining the kick-off times the following criteria was taken into consideration: equitable distribution across all teams, equitable rest periods for teams in the same group, temperature in venues, global TV market considerations, fan travel logistics, flight times and accommodation," said world football's governing body in a statement.

FIFA has been criticised in the past for putting television interests ahead of the players. The 1970 and 1986 World Cups in Mexico and the 1994 finals in the United States were often played in searing heat.

The toughest matches are likely to be a Group A fixture in Manaus on June 18 and a Group G game at the same venue on June 22, both at 15:00.

A torrid afternoon also awaits the teams who meet in Natal in Group A on June 13 and in Group D on June 24, both at 13:00, and in Group G in Salvador on June 16 and Group F on June 25, also at 13:00.

All matches in the knockout rounds will be played at 13:00 or 17:00 local time.