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Wednesday, 22 May, 2002, 11:01 GMT 12:01 UK
Night owls or early risers?
Brazil fans
Brazil fans usually produce a carnival atmosphere

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South America is preparing itself for a pyjama party.

The huge time zone difference means that the action in Korea and Japan takes place in the South American small hours.

The earliest kick off time is 0130 (all times local) and the latest, 0830.

Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay might have won half the World Cups between them, but in terms of economic power the boot is firmly on the European foot.

As far as possible match times are arranged for the convenience of European TV.

After the draw last year, several matches were switched to make the timings more attractive to the European market.

Diego Maradona
Maradona is urging fans to get out of bed
As so often, Diego Maradona is coming to the rescue.

The man who once got people out of their seats now has the task of getting them out of their beds.

Argentina's group games kick off at 0230, 0830 and 0330.

Maradona has filmed a commercial in which he plays an elfin-type figure who wanders round ringing on doorbells to make sure everyone wakes up in time to watch Argentina.

He is a kind of footballing Father Christmas - but it will be up to Marcelo Bielsa┐s men to deliver the present.

Brazil kick off at 0600, 0830 and 0330.

There were fears that the early hour would inhibit the festivities which typically accompany a Brazilian World Cup.

All-night parties

But people are beginning to throw themselves into the spirit. The traditional paintings and green and yellow streamers are starting to adorn the streets.

Watching the World Cup on TV has been an integral part of Brazilian life since 1970, the first time it was broadcast live.

Given the quality of football played that year, it is hardly surprising that the habit stuck.

For Ecuador, on the other hand, all this is new.

Last November the party rolled on all night in Quito when they qualified for the first World Cup.

Now they will need the same kind of stamina to follow games which kick off at 0630, 0130 and 0630 again.

Uruguay fans
Uruguay fans face a tricky choice of viewing tactics
The traditional celebration when Paraguay win is to parade around Asuncion in the back of a pick-up truck.

There will not be much other traffic on the roads after games that start at 0330, 0500 and 0730.

Then there is Uruguay, back in the World Cup for the first time in 12 years, and kicking off at 0600, 0830 and 0330.

As befits the first winners of the tournament, Uruguay have some experience of this.

They had to play off against Australia to claim the last place. The first leg, away from home, got underway at 0600.

It left supporters in a dilemma. Should they wake up early, or stay awake all night? Many chose the latter, and were hopelessly drunk come kick off.

They reacted to Uruguay's defeat by going on the rampage, causing considerable damage to the usually sedate city of Montevideo.


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