In the eyes of many soccer insiders and fans, FIFA’s biggest concern is making money. You can now add Brazil’s National Federation of Professional Football Athletes to that list. The organization is accusing soccer’s world governing body of putting players’ health at risk by scheduling games at the upcoming 2014 World Cup in Brazil at the worst time of the day for heat and humidity.
Rinaldo Martorelli, the union’s president, said he has contacted the Brazilian football federation and the country’s sports minister about its concerns and is dead against the starting times that FIFA has scheduled games for. Martorelli said the union will take every measure to fight against the early kickoff times and will take FIFA to court if it has to. He releases a statement which said the union will defend the rights of the players at every level.
According to the union, the 1 p.m. kickoff times for many of the games aren’t acceptable in some of the cities because of the weather. This included matches scheduled in the topical locales of Salvador, Recife, and Natal. Martorelli said the temperature is usually about 90 degrees Fahrenheit in those cities during the month of June, which is when the tournament will be held. In all, 24 out of the 64 tournament contests will kickoff at 1 p.m. local time.
He added that the union is anxious to discuss the problem with Brazilian World Cup organizers and FIFA to come to an acceptable solution. Martorelli said the union doesn’t want to cause trouble, but there should be some common ground that everybody agrees to. As well as the games in the tropical cities, the union is also concerned about early matches in Brasilia, the capital city of Brazil, because it’s very dry there and five games have been scheduled there for 1 p.m. In addition, there are a couple of 3 p.m. games set for the city of Manaus, which sits in the Amazon rainforest.
FIFA said that it held meetings with the organization’s medical committee before coming up with the schedule for the month-long event. Jerome Valcke, secretary general of FIFA, said players’’ health isn’t being put at risk to please broadcasters in Europe. He claimed that the health of the participants is always the priority and commercial gain isn’t considered.
The early rounds of the World Cup will see games kickoff at 1, 3, and 7 p.m. local time, which means the latest the games will kick off in central Europe will be the 7 p.m. matches, which will begin at midnight there. Sepp Blatter, the president of FIFA, said the 1986 and 1970 World Cups were held in hotter temperatures and at a high altitude in Mexico when they kicked off at 12 noon. He added that the weather was also quite hot and humid in 1994 when the event took place in the U.S.
Those who support the players’ union claim that past World Cups don’t have any bearing on the 2014 event and that the player’s have the right to stand up for themselves.