Friday, in Brazil, national courts have ruled that all World Cup matches played in high temperatures (above 90 F) must provide ample opportunities for hydration, in compliance with FIFA regulations already on the books.
After the Italy-Costa Rica game played in near 100F degrees FIFA has acquiesced to the Brazilian courts and is going to allow water breaks throughout matches in excessive heat in Brazil’s World Cup.
Judge Rogerio Neiva Pinheiro, in Brasilia’s labor court, said FIFA had to show in was complying with their own regulations or face a fine equivalent to $90,000. “There is nothing that ensures FIFA is complying with its own rules,” the judge’s statement said.
Michel D’ Hooghe, the head of FIFA’s medical committee, said the organization uses the Wet Bulb Globe Temperature reading, a composite of temperature, humidity and wind speed, that can estimate the effects of the environment on the players.
“We have done all of the scientific work necessary to avoid these heat problems,” said D’ Hooghe.
FIFA regulations stipulate that when the temperature exceeds 90F water breaks at the 30th and 75th minutes would take place. FIFA spokeswoman Delia Fischer said: “The court is only ordering us to follow our own procedures which we have always planned to do.” Nevertheless, as the above-mentioned game progressed in precisely those stipulated conditions no such water breaks took place.
Several European players have complained about the heat and humidity and numerous players from all parts of the world could be seen cramping during the latter stages of several matches played in particular hot regions of Brazil.
FIFPro Chief Medical Officer, Vincent Gouttebarge disagrees with the FIFA regulation saying it is not sufficient for “optimal re-hydration.” He is quoted by Fox News as saying: “Sports science shows that the amount of fluid an athlete can ingest and digest during exercising is up to 200-250 ml every 15 minutes. Consequently, an optimal strategy would rely on two water breaks each half, one every 15 minutes, rather than the FIFA choice of a single four minute break each half.”
It will be good to have the World Cup 2014 tournament report on this issue handy when the FIFA Executive Committee takes up its discussion about the advisability of playing a World Cup in Qatar where the average summer temperature is well above the one that would trigger the automatic water breaks.