Wimbledon bosses express surprise at Fifa World Cup final clash

Viewers may have to chose between the final and the action on centre court. Picture: Getty
Viewers may have to chose between the final and the action on centre court. Picture: Getty
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Wimbledon bosses say they were surprised at Fifa’s decision to schedule the World Cup final to clash with the men’s singles final.

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

And the World Cup final, to kick off at 4pm, will coincide with the men’s singles final at 2pm on July 15.

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 AELTC (the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club), 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, football fans 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 the two start times.

But some fans of both sports will be coming up with creative ways to watch both games.

Asked what he would be watching, celebrity chef Marcus Wareing - who attended Wimbledon on Wednesday - said: “I am not sure, that is a difficult one.

“We will have to have two tellies, flicking back and forth.”

The Wimbledon final and the World Cup final will both be broadcast on the BBC, and the football will also be on ITV.

A spokeswoman for the BBC said a decision on the scheduling for the finals on July 15 had not yet been made.