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Monday, 3 July, 2000, 13:08 GMT 14:08 UK
Fans set to suffer in 2002
While the celebrations from Euro 2000 are still to die down, thoughts are already beginning to turn to the World Cup in two years' time.
The European Championship was virtually an unbridled success, from a fan's and then a purely football point of view.
Not because the football itself will not be good, or the stadia magnificent, or the organisation anything less than first-class.
But because of the simple matter of time-lines.
From the parochial point of view of a European fan, the seven-hour time difference could not be much worse.
A game that kicks off at 3pm in Japan or South Korea will be hitting our screens in the UK at 8am - hardly the ideal time to be down the pub sinking pints with a bunch of mates.
An evening kick-off - say 7.45pm, as has been the case at Euro 2000 - clocks in at 11am in the UK. Once again, far from ideal for any supporter trying to hold down a job for the duration of the month-long tournament.
Fifa say that no decision has yet been taken on when exactly games will begin.
But there were strong hints earlier this year that midnight starts local time - which would mean 5pm kick-offs for British fans - would not be considered.
It is difficult to envisage any team or manager agreeing to start a game any later than 10pm, which means one of the most enjoyable aspects of a major tournament - an evening round the TV watching football - will be missing, unless you are satisfied with highlights packages.
It will also be the longest and biggest World Cup in history, beginning on 31 May and not reaching its conclusion until 30 June.
Thus we could be faced with a scenario where supporters in Europe - nations who, on past form, could be expected to be involved for a large part of the competition - will have to spend a month dodging work and faking doctors' sick notes.
The sheer distance of the host nations from Europe also means it will be difficult to get around the problem by watching the games in person.
Although tickets for first round games start at around the £40 mark, making them accessible to most fans, the cost of getting to South Korea and Japan in the first place will deter many from the UK.
Around 800,000 tickets will be made available to the general public outside of the co-host nations, out of a total of three million.
But with a return ticket from London to Tokyo, economy class, costing around the £1,400 mark with British Airways, it is an option that will be out of many fans' reach.
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