Heat a concern for 2014 World Cup - FIFPro

25 Sep 2013

FIFPro secretary general Theo van Seggelen has stated football stakeholders should be more concerned by potential heat issues at next year’s FIFA World Cup in Brazil, with Qatar’s 2022 tournament currently at the centre of debate.

The world players’ union believes the furore surrounding Qatar 2022 is putting more immediate concerns in the shadows, including third-party ownership of players and the transfer system. FIFPro has previously stated it may ask FIFA to reconsider its decision to schedule 2014 World Cup games in the early afternoon in tropical venues in Brazil. Van Seggelen, speaking after a meeting with FIFA president Sepp Blatter, said travelling and heat were FIFPro’s biggest concerns for next year. “It astonishes me that the media is obsessed with Qatar in nine years’ time and does not seem very bothered about the World Cup in 2014,” he said, according to Reuters.

FIFA has previously strongly denied accusations that the formation of the game schedule for the 2014 World Cup has prioritised commercial gain over player welfare. Tropical cities Natal, Recife and Salvador will each host two group-stage matches at 13:00 local time (17:00 GMT). The three cities on the northeast coast of Brazil can expect temperatures of around 90 degrees in June. Most kick-off slots in the early stages of the World Cup are at 13:00, 16:00 and 19:00 local time, with the exception of a June 14 game in Manaus that kicks off at 21:00 (02:00 GMT). Staging the first match of each matchday later would have meant pushing the final game into late-night television slots in Europe, which is providing 13 of the 32 competing teams. Van Seggelen said players had already suffered the effects of the heat at this year’s Confederations Cup, especially during the Fortaleza semi-final which went to extra time. “I spoke to the Italian and Spanish players after the semi-final and they said it was impossible to play extra time in that heat, and that was a late afternoon kickoff,” he said. “We have to realise that it’s not just the quality of the game that is affected, but the players’ health could be damaged. The travelling is also a problem, you have four-hour flights in some cases and when you have just played a tough game and only have a few days to recover, that also has an effect.”

FIFA had said scheduling proved a challenge in a bid to meet Brazil 2014’s aim of ensuring teams travelled around the country. FIFPro is now awaiting a detailed report about conditions in Brazil, but Van Seggelen has hinted the organisation could take a stronger stance in future after FIFA failed to consult players over scheduling for the 2014 World Cup. “Unfortunately, we are going to have to start playing hardball, not because we want to but because we have no other choice,” he added.