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Players union Acolfutpro, speaking on behalf of all professional footballers in Colombia, warns that the decision to scratch all evening matches could be a huge risk for the health of the players.

Last Friday 11 March, without consulting players, the three bodies that organise professional football in Colombia (Dimayor, Dífutbol and the Football Federation FCF) unilaterally decided to begin all weekend matches of the upcoming tournament between 10:00 and 16:00.

They refused to schedule night matches because the Colombian government has called for energy saving measures. Stadium lights require a lot of energy.

However, between 10 and 4 hours temperatures reach their highest level. In some areas this could lead to matches being played in temperatures of 35 degrees Celsius or higher, putting the health of the players at risk.

The Colombian footballers, united in Acolfutpro, respect the government’s desire to save energy, “but not when it affects our physical integrity or working conditions,” the union said in a statement.

“Our members have expressed their concern about this unilateral decision which will affect their performance on the pitch.”

Acolfutpro is furious that they were not involved in this decision. “Have they consulted doctors or trainers who know about the risks of physical activity in high temperatures? Have they consulted players about this measures that will affect their performance and health?”

“We regret that the leaders in Colombian football take decisions that put commercial, political and economic interests above the health of the players, the people who have to put on a show.”

Acolfutpro refers to what happened two months ago in Chile, where the Ministry of Labour, the FA and the players union (Sifup) jointly agreed not to schedule matches between 12.00 and 15.30 hours.

“Why can’t we guarantee the players rights in Colombia in a similar way? For example, it could be an alternative to schedule matches at 16.00 hours, which would still fulfill the goal of energy saving and at the same time would not hurt the players.”