Football: Arbeloa calls for late starts at World Cup

FORTALEZA, Brazil (AFP) - Spain defender Alvaro Arbeloa believes matches at next year's World Cup should kick off in the evenings to spare players from the damaging effects of heat and humidity in Brazil's stadiums.

Spain play Italy in the Confederations Cup semi-finals at 1600 local time (12am Singapore time) in Fortaleza on Thursday, when temperatures are forecast to reach 30 deg C.

While Spain's 2-1 group-stage win over Uruguay kicked off at 1900, their games against Tahiti and Nigeria both started in the afternoon, and Arbeloa said he and his team-mates felt the effects.

Asked if games at the 2014 World Cup - which will also take place during the Brazilian winter - should start in the evening, the Real Madrid full-back said: "For me, it's an emphatic yes.

"I think it would be much better to play at seven, just like the game against Uruguay. It would be better for the spectators." Midfielder Sergio Busquets agreed that the conditions were problematic, but said he did not believe the weather would be a significant factor against Italy.

"Regarding the temperature and the humidity, the conditions aren't ideal, but it's the same for both teams," said the Barcelona midfielder.

"Hopefully the Nigeria match will be useful as we'll know what we're up against and we can use it against Italy. I don't think it'll have any impact on the match though." Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon said competing in the Confederations Cup could be an aid to those teams that go on to qualify for the World Cup.

"Playing in a hot, humid climate now might be an advantage for next year, because if we remember what it was like, it might help our staff prepare us," he said.

"I think this kind of competition being played before the World Cup in the same country can yield some important points about improving performances the following year."

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.