When I woke up this morning and flipped on the TV expecting there to be an 8am game I was flipping channels and confused as to why I couldn’t find the game. Eventually, I realized there were two World Cup games at 10am and two games at 2pm (EST) and this two-games-at-a-time schedule is the same for tomorrow, the next day, the day after that, etc.
My first thought was ‘why the hell would they lose out on ratings and broadcast two games at the same time?‘ I was alone in thinking that it was confusing why there were suddenly two games on at the same time as this started trending on Twitter:
I figured it had to do with this being the third set of games in the 3-game group stage and FIFA wanting to speed up the tournament. But that didn’t seem right, so I started Googling around and landed on this article from James Dator at SBNation with an excellent explanation of why there are two games on at the same time for the rest of the Group Stage and the reason actually makes a lot of sense. Essentially, it’s to stop teams from manipulating scores that would affect the Knockout Stage:
The last round of group games are always scheduled to happen at the same time. It was a decision by FIFA to try and eliminate teams knowing exactly what they needed to move forward. This thwarted attempts for teams to manipulate the results by pressuring draws, or doctoring their goal differential to finish higher, lower, or eliminate other teams by their performance. (via)
It’s all an extension of this event, the Disgrace of Gijón in which West Germany and Austria were both accused of fixing the match but FIFA eventually ruled that neither nation’s team broke any rules. The reasoning behind this makes sense it’s just the timing of it that sucks because this afternoon we saw Spain and Portugal playing at the same time. Iran scoring a late-game penalty shot and Morocco scoring a late goal (to force a tie with Spain) to keep an array of possibilities in play until the last minute. Soccer fans worldwide would love to be watching both of those games at the same time but that’s not an option for everyone, but it does make sense that they play the games simultaneously for the reasons listed above.