England may have late show with Italy

England are expected to find out by the end of Saturday whether the kick-off time for their World Cup match against Italy will be brought forward to appease broadcasters.

England football team

England's worst fears were confirmed on Friday when the Three Lions were handed an opening fixture against Italy on June 14 in the sweltering heat of Manaus.

The jungle city, which lies right in the middle of the Amazon rainforest, experiences temperatures of more than 30 degrees centigrade, and humidity levels are expected to exceed 80 per cent.

The jungle is a big selling point for Manaus, but a pamphlet handed out by the local tourist board also warns, rather worryingly, that "it is possible to meet alligators at night."

Providing they do not have any run-ins with the local wildlife, Roy Hodgson's team are due to kick-off against Italy at 9pm local time, which is good news for England because temperatures will be lower than during the day.

Broadcasters want the time of the game brought forward by a few hours, however, because as it stands, kick-off would be 2am the following morning in the UK and 3am in Italy.

FIFA confirmed on Saturday afternoon that it was negotiating with English broadcasters ITV and their Italian counterparts Rai over the matter in Salvador, where the draw was made.

"We should have an answer by the end of the day," a FIFA spokeswoman said.

England have no influence on the kick-off time, but it is clear that the do not want it moved forward.

Club England managing director Adrian Bevington said: "That's something for TV and FIFA and we have no control over it.

"But playing at 9pm in Manaus is clearly helpful from our side and from a football point of view.

"We can't deny that it's better to play in Manaus later in the day."

FIFA said there was no chance of the venue being changed despite the Italian delegation raising concerns about the energy-sapping conditions in the city.

Barbara Moschini, from the Italian delegation, said after the draw: "It's a nightmare. It might be a good story for the tournament but not in any other way."

England coach Hodgson offended Manaus' mayor Arthur Virgilio prior to the draw when he said the city was "ideally the place to avoid".

The mayor responded immediately by declaring that England would not be welcome in Manaus, but the two factions have patched things up since.

Manaus' sports minister said Britain's ambassador to Brazil Alex Ellis apologised for any offence caused by Hodgson's comments.

"After the final draw, the British ambassador came to talk to us," Fabricio Lima told Press Association Sport.

"The ambassador cleared things up and he said sorry.

"We were aware of the situation but everything finished well.

"We couldn't meet the coach of the British team (on Friday) but we will receive him and the fans with open arms."

The Football Supporters' Federation said there had been a "mixed" reaction among England fans to the news that the team would be playing in Manaus.

Some fans, it said, had been put off by the idea of trekking to the jungle, but others were relishing the prospect of experiencing true Amazonian culture despite the heat.

Lima insists the humidity will not be a problem, however.

"For the supporters and for the English team the only warmth they will feel is from the people of Manaus and that is all that counts," he said with a smile.

Croatia take on Cameroon in Manaus and Switzerland also face Honduras in the city's specially-built 44,000-seater stadium called the Arena da Amazonia.

Manaus has little football heritage, but organisers wanted to take the tournament to all four corners of the country.

British businesses flocked there in the 19th century to make money from a booming rubber trade.

As well as alligators, snakes, spiders and exotic birds can be found in and around the jungle.

Mosquitoes will be the biggest problem for England fans when they travel to Manaus next summer, though.

Visitors run the risk of contracting malaria if they do not take the right medication before they travel.

The Department of Health advises travellers to Manaus to take one of a wide range of drugs the week before they travel.

Those include Chloroquine, Proguanil and Doxycycline as some of the malaria tablets available.

Side effects in some of the drugs include upset stomachs, headaches, diarrhoea and mouth ulcers.

Visitors have to continue taking the drugs for up to four weeks after they leave the Amazon.

Fans must also make sure they have good quality mosquito nets, the Department of Health said on its website.

Another problem for England fans is that there are no direct flights to Manaus. The best route is to go via Portugal.

The cheapest flights currently stand at around £750. The most expensive ones can cost over £5,000.



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