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FIFA changes 7 WCup starting times

COSTA DO SAUIPE, Brazil -- FIFA has switched the starting times of seven World Cup matches, including the U.S.-Portugal game on June 22 in the Amazonian jungle city of Manaus.

FIFPro, the international soccer players' union, had pressed FIFA to avoid the earliest kickoffs in the hottest and most humid weather.

After FIFA declined to change the two-year-old schedule, FIFPro suggested that the governing body "considers the demands of TV companies of greater importance than the health and safety of the players."

The U.S.-Portugal game initially was set for 3 p.m. local time. Two other games in Manaus -- England vs. Italy on June 14 and Cameroon vs. Croatia on June 18 -- were moved ahead three hours to 6 p.m.

The England-Italy switch means Ivory Coast vs. Japan will now start at 10 p.m. local time in the tropical coastal climate of Recife.

On June 18, Cameroon-Croatia flips kickoff slots with Spain vs. Chile, which now starts at 4 p.m. in Rio de Janeiro. That means Spain's appearance at the Maracana Stadium will now start in Spanish prime time instead of midnight back home.

The U.S.-Portugal move forced two other changes. Belgium vs. Russia will start at 1 p.m. local time in Rio de Janeiro, instead of 7 p.m., which would have required European viewers to stay up well beyond midnight.

South Korea vs. Algeria was moved to 4 p.m. local time in the coolest, most southern World Cup city of Porto Alegre from 1 p.m.

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