Fifa’s World Cup final scheduling surprising, say Wimbledon chiefs

The World Cup final kicks off two hours after that of the men’s singles tournament at Wimbledon (Mike Egerton/PA) Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Wimbledon bosses say they were surprised at Fifa’s decision to schedule the World Cup final to clash with the men’s singles final.

The timing conflict on July 15 means the tennis will be broadcast on BBC2 for the first time.

While the tennis match on Centre Court will start on BBC1, the broadcaster said it would move over to the sister channel when the football coverage starts at 3pm.

England’s World Cup quarter-final against Sweden will clash with the middle Saturday at Wimbledon.

While Wimbledon organisers have no plans to screen the football anywhere in the grounds, they expressed their bewilderment at the footballing body’s scheduling decision.

Mick Desmond, commercial and media director at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (AELTC), said there were also no plans to change the Wimbledon timetable, and discussions had been held with Fifa.

He added: “It’s slightly surprising Fifa had the idea of kick-off at four o’clock. It’s not something they’ve done in the past, but that’s the decision.

“You know, our tournament (final) always starts at two o’clock – we’ll start at two o’clock.”

“There was dialogue (between Wimbledon and Fifa) and there was dialogue between the broadcasters.

“I think broadcasters who’ve got both sets of rights were concerned. At the end of the day, Fifa decided to do that.”

He said if England get to the final, “then it’s going to be a great sporting Sunday”.

A Fifa spokesman said: “We got the question a long time ago and we answered the question a long time ago.

“The kick-off times for the Fifa World Cup were set in co-operation with a range of stakeholders and taking into account a number of aspects such as the global broadcast market and feasibility for the fans – both in terms of attending the matches and reaching a wide TV audience.

“Following those discussions, it was decided on December 3 2015 that the 2018 Fifa World Cup final match will take place at 6pm (Moscow time).

“I understand now people are waking up (to the clash), but the decision was already made.”

The finals clash poses problems for fans of both sports, with the average length for a men’s Wimbledon final since 2002 coming in at two hours and 53 minutes.

Based on this, fans of both sports would miss the entire first half of the World Cup final.

The longest ever final is recorded as the match between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in 2008, which lasted four hours and 48 minutes.

The two international tennis stars could face each other in the final again this year.

There have only been two men’s finals that have lasted less than two hours – the gap between the two start times.