Soccer's World Cup not shown at Wimbledon, but still having an impact

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LONDON—The All England Club is sticking to its policy of not showing World Cup games at Wimbledon, even as England progresses further into the soccer's premier international tournament.

Organizers had announced that soccer games would not be screened on the grounds during the tournament.

"That's always been our policy. On the grounds, we show tennis to the public. We're a tennis event," said the All England Club CEO, Richard Lewis, speaking to a small group of journalists as the tournament began. "But we hope the World Cup's a great event, we hope the Championships is a great event."

Saturday's play was affected by the start of the England vs. Sweden World Cup quarterfinal game at 3 p.m., with Centre Court not even a third full for the second match of the day between Angelique Kerber and Naomi Osaka.

But the relatively small group of spectators were attentive, and Kerber found it a positive experience—especially consider her straight-sets win.

"I was still enjoying the match on court," said Kerber. "It's always special to play on the Centre Court. I knew before that England is playing on the same time."

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In addition to not screening soccer games, tournament staff were also asking fans not to watch the game on their phones on the grounds, and online access to World Cup streaming was limited, either deliberately or from high demand.

But the game finished just before the day's featured Centre Court match between Novak Djokovic and Britain's Kyle Edmund, which, like Rafael Nadal's match at the start of the day, was played in front of a full crowd. Edmund had requested a 1 p.m. start, to watch the England game following his match, but according to British press, organizers went with what broadcasters wanted.

Edmund fell in four sets following England's win.

"I was obviously keeping an eye on it, watching. It's obviously on a bunch of screens around the locker rooms, physio area," said Edmund.

With England reaching the World Cup semifinals, the effects could become even larger further into the tournament. The men's final is starting at 2 p.m. on the same day as the World Cup final at 4 p.m., and organizers have said it will not be moved, even if England reaches the final.

Tournament officials said they are simply sticking to their usual schedule, while World Cup organizers have moved up their normal start.

"It's slightly surprising that FIFA had the idea of the kick-off at four o'clock," said the All England Club's commercial director, speaking to a small group of journalists during the tournament. "There was dialogue, and there was dialogue with between the broadcasters. 

"FIFA decided to do that."

On Saturday, the All England Club announced capacity attendance of 39,364 spectators.


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