FIFA deny playing World Cup matches in midday heat will put players" health at risk

FIFA deny playing World Cup matches in midday heat will put players' health at risk



17:49 GMT, 28 September 2012

FIFA insist they are not putting
television demands ahead of players' health by having World Cup matches
in Brazil kick-off in the midday heat.

Several matches at the 2014 finals
will start in the early afternoon, some at 1pm, which will suit European
TV audiences who due to the time difference will be able to tune in
during the peak time early evening.

Some of the venues in Brazil, particularly in the tropical north, experience high temperatures during the day.

Work in progress: The Beira Rio Stadium, one of the venues of the 2014 World Cup

Work in progress: The Beira Rio Stadium, one of the venues of the 2014 World Cup

But FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke has launched an outspoken defence.

He told a news conference: 'I can't even imagine why and how you could think we are making decisions thinking about the television and not thinking about the health of the players.

'Whatever we do is never right [for the media]. The match schedule was wrong, the kick-off times are wrong.

'The first thing we need is a good World Cup and to have a good World Cup we must make sure we have the best of football and to have the best of football, we need the best teams and the best game.

'Every decision we make takes into consideration the health of the players.'

Valcke pointed out that the huge distances in Brazil, and local organisers wanting the top teams to move around different parts of the country, made it more difficult.

Brazil nuts: England will face playing in midday heat... if they qualify

Brazil nuts: England will face playing in midday heat… if they qualify

He added: 'We have made a decision to play in all Brazil because that was the request of Brazil.

'You have a country which is not a small country, it is a continent, where it can be two degrees and 26 degrees at the same time on the same day.

'Then you have to take these teams around the country because it was also a decision not to play in just in one region of the country but to travel all around the country to give all Brazilians the chance to enjoy England, Germany, Italy – whoever is qualified from the top teams and have a full picture of the World Cup.'

FIFA president Sepp Blatter added the heat would not be a problem and compared it to past World Cups in Latin America.

He said: 'The history of football has shown that great players can play in all conditions. In Mexico in 1970 and 1986, we played at high noon, at 2,400 metres and the quality of the game did not suffer.

'You know that in difficult conditions, you can stop the game, you can cool down, and have drinks. You will remember 25 years ago, the referees said it was forbidden to drink water during the matches, and now all that has been changed because we want to take care of the health of the players.'

The schedule appears to favour Brazil in terms of kick-off times but Valcke insisted this was just a question of luck.

'The match schedule has not been organised just for Brazil to win this World Cup, but it is true they are lucky and playing in very good conditions,' he said.