FIFA play down health fears

28 September 2012 05:18

FIFA has insisted it is 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.

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."

He added: "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."

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.

"We have made a decision to play in all Brazil because that was the request of Brazil," he added. "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."

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."

Source: PA