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FIFPro welcomes the words by FIFA President Sepp Blatter that FIFA is to rethink the midday starts during the 2014 World Cup. The World Footballers’ Association appreciates that the FIFA Executive Committee is to re-open this discussion, and that President Blatter and FIFA have realized that the health and safety of the players cannot be subjected to any unreasonable risk.

 

On Friday, FIFA President Blatter announced that during the December FIFA Executive Committee meeting in Salvador (Brazil), the time schedule will be on the agenda due to ‘different pleas, letters and demands’ received by FIFA. According to President Blatter, ‘the time schedule has been established, but not yet sanctioned’. 

 

FIFPro is one of the parties that have complained about the time schedule, as it deems that it will confront players with unacceptable risks to their health and safety. Of the 64 World Cup matches, 24 have been scheduled at 13:00 hours local time, several of them in tropical conditions. There are also two matches scheduled at 15:00 hours and 11 matches at 16:00 hours. Not all matches will be played in tropical circumstances, but too many will.

 

For FIFPro protecting the health and safety of professional footballers is of paramount importance. This must drive decision making at all levels of football. Medical and scientific experts are clear that playing in extreme heat is hazardous and require sporting organisations to have strong and proactive policies that ensure players are not subjected to any unreasonable risk to their health.

 

During the recent FIFA Confederations Cup in June and July matches were also scheduled at 16:00 hours, among others the Italy-Spain semifinal in Fortaleza. Afterwards players of both teams complained about the playing conditions, with the temperature rising above 30 degrees Celsius and more than 80 percent humidity. Players were visibly exhausted, the level of play and the pace of the match were well below average.

 

‘Both players and fans would be winners, if playing conditions such as those during Italy-Spain could be avoided’, says FIFPro Secretary General, Theo van Seggelen. ‘The players want to have a fair chance to perform at their utmost without any unacceptable risk of damaging their health. The fans want match conditions which provide the best circumstances for a spectacular and fair match, and which do not endanger the players’ health and safety too.’

 

‘FIFPro welcomes the fact that President Blatter and the FIFA Executive Committee want to open the discussion on the time schedule of the 2014 World Cup. We – FIFPro and our players – expect FIFA to exclude any unreasonable risk during the tournament.’