The Pacific Games football schedule was released on Wednesday and two things stood out. The lack of a semi-final and the fact that the men and women’s bronze and gold medal finals would be played at the exact same time.
The winners of the two groups, made up of five and six teams for the men and two groups of five for the women, will advance directly to the gold medal final, with the two runners-up in the groups going to the bronze final. Both bronze finals will be played on Saturday, July 20th at 9 in the morning local time, with both gold finals to follow at noon.
The men’s final will be played at the main pitch of the Toleafoa J.S Blatter Soccer Field which has a seating capacity of 500 people according to the organisers. The other four fields, including Field 2 where the women’s bronze and gold matches will be played, do not have any kind of seating.
“There are three reasons the schedule is this way,” Andrew Minogue, CEO of the Pacific Games Council, tells Football in Oceania.
“One; we cannot play on Sunday under our Constitution. Two; FIFA requires a rest of 48 hours between matches. Three; we do not want any matches to start before the Opening Ceremony as teams will only be arriving just in advance of,” he says.
See the full schedule at the bottom of the article.
With both finals being played at the same time and the men’s final being held at the main stadium, that will no doubt decrease the number of spectators the women’s matches will get when being relegated to the second field.
This is a shame as the women’s game has grown in leaps and bounds in recent years and the most recent Nations Cup, held in New Caledonia in December of last year, attracted many spectators.
However, time constraints have stopped the matches from being played at different times and the women getting the recognition they deserve, according to Minogue.
“As far as I am aware, we need these four matches to be finished in the afternoon because the Closing Ceremony is being held that evening,” he says.
“There is no time to play all four matches on the one pitch.”
This is truly a pity for everyone involved, but at least most of the group stage matches go at somewhat different times, so there’s still plenty of football to watch for those who want to!