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FIFA sticks to kickoff times despite threats

Friday, May 23, 2014

SAO PAULO, Brazil - FIFA says it is not considering changing kickoff times or adding mandatory cooling breaks during World Cup matches, despite being sued by Brazil's players' union because of health concerns.

FIFA said it spent nearly two years analysing starting times for the tournament in Brazil and always took into consideration the players' health.

The players' federation filed a lawsuit this week to change kickoff times of the 24 matches scheduled to start at 1 pm local time, saying players would be at risk because of intense heat and humidity in some venues.

It said FIFA must at least introduce two-minute water breaks in each half during those matches.

The players' federation is asking for a temporary injunction against FIFA but there's no timetable on a ruling.

"FIFA's medical team is always monitoring carefully all venues during any FIFA competition to protect the players' health," football's governing body said in a statement.

"Cooling breaks will be considered on a match-by-match basis for the 64 matches. Official and mandatory cooling breaks will not be pre-established. Rather, climate conditions will be evaluated prior to each match by the FIFA venue medical officer."

There were similar health concerns during the 1994 World Cup in the United States, when temperatures reached the mid-30s in some of the games.

Extreme heat is also a problem for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, with FIFA considering moving the tournament to winter to avoid the hot weather in the Gulf nation.

FIFA said it had already made the schedule changes it felt were needed in the Brazilian cities with the highest temperatures.

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