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2014 World Cup dates confirmed by Fifa

The 2014 World Cup finals will start on June 12 and finish on July 13, FIFA announced today.

The announcement comes three days before the preliminary draw for the tournament, comprising 203 teams playing an eventual 824 matches across the globe.

At a news conference in Rio, FIFA president Sepp Blatter also announced that a decision whether to introduce goalline technology would be taken at next March's meeting in London of the International FA Board, the game's lawmakers.

If approved, he said, it could be implemented at the World Cup finals two years later.

FIFA also announced that the World Cup play-off system, heavily criticised after Thierry Henry's infamous handball for France against Ireland, would be maintained.