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May 20, 2014

Union demands change of match times

The sights and sounds of Manaus.

SAO PAULO -- The Brazilian federation of professional athletes is demanding FIFA change the start times of more than a third of World Cup matches because of the heat and humidity in Brazil.

The federation said Tuesday it filed a lawsuit asking FIFA to change kickoff times of all 24 matches that are scheduled for 1 p.m. local time (16:00 GMT). It wants all matches starting no earlier than 4 p.m (19:00 GMT) to avoid subjecting players to the "risks" of playing in "intense heat."

The federation based the request on local labor regulations and on a study conducted by a renowned Brazilian sports doctor, Turibio Leite. The study was a request by the Brazilian athletes' federation and FIFPro, the international football players' union.

In a statement, the professional athletes' federation said that, as an alternative, it would accept that matches are stopped for two minutes in each half so players can take water breaks to get hydrated.

FIFA did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but it had already said that it would allow breaks depending on weather conditions.

Football's governing body last year altered the starting times of seven matches in the most hot and humid host cities.

At the time, FIFPro had been accusing FIFA of considering "the demands of TV companies of greater importance than the health and safety of the players."

It will be winter in Brazil during the World Cup, but it may be hot and humid in many of the 12 host cities, especially in the northeastern and northern regions.

There was special concern with the jungle city of Manaus, where humidity is expected to significantly affect players' performances. Coaches of several teams, including England's Roy Hodgson, had said they wanted to avoid playing in the city because of the harsh weather conditions there.

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