[BRAZIL 2014]FIFA pushed back following a lawsuit by Penapaf, the federation of Brazilian professional athletes seeking a restraining order to prevent the World Cup from going ahead with 1 p.m. local time kickoffs. Previously, FIFA approved a measure to allow water breaks at designated times in each half.
Uniform start times of 1 p.m. for each matchday's opening game are necessary to stagger games for international broadcasters. Only one day -- the third day of the tournament -- has a match starting as late as 10 p.m. local time.
FIFA's executive committee approved a new rule last fall allowing water breaks at the 30-minute marks of both halves if temperatures exceeded certain levels. (The threshold at which cooling breaks will be triggered is by an Web Bulb Globe Temperature of 89.6 degrees or more. WBGT measures humidity, solar inclination and air temperature.)
FIFA said its analysis of start times resulted in ruling out early games in Manaus and Cuiaba, both interior venues, and Fortaleza, the northern-most coastal venue, in the group stage.
Penapaf is seeking to change kickoff times of the 24 matches with 1 p.m. start times, saying players would be at risk because of intense heat and humidity. It also demanded that two-minute water breaks become a requirement.
''FIFA's medical team is always monitoring carefully all venues during any FIFA competition to protect the players' health," FIFA 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.''
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Training camp update ...
WHERE'S THE BEEF?After it had five players kicked out of the 2011 Gold Cup after they tested positive for a banned substance from eating contaminated beef -- they were later cleared -- Mexico is taking no chances ahead of the World Cup.
Red meat isn't being served on El Tri's training table, and players have been warned not to eat beef. ''Our training center has determined, based on what happened in the past, that red meat shouldn't be eaten,'' Coach Miguel Herrera said.
The World Anti-Doping Agency determined that meat in Mexico was contaminated with clenbuterol -- which is used to fatten cattle -- and produced the positive tests for the five players in 2011.
For California-born Miguel Ponce, a last-minute replacement, the edict came a little late. ''I ate a few tacos," he said, "but I hope there is no problem. From now, on I'll follow what's been requested.''
Roster news ...
ARGENTINA CUTS FOUR.Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella reduced his squad from 30 to 26 players, dropping Franco Di Santo (Werder Bremen), Lisandro Lopez (Getafe), Fabian Rinaudo(Catania) and Gabriel Mercado (River Plate) ahead of the training camp that opens Monday outside Buenos Aires.
World Cup 2014 Squads:
Group A: Brazil (23) | Cameroon (28) | Croatia (30) | *Mexico (23)
Group B:Australia (30) | Chile (30) | Netherlands (30) | Spain (30)
Group C:Colombia (30)| *Greece (23)|Ivory Coast (28)|Japan (23)
Group D: Costa Rica (26) | England(23) | Italy (30) | Uruguay (25)
Group E: Ecuador (24) | *France (23) | Honduras (23) |Switzerland (23)
Group F:*Argentina (26) |Bosnia-Herzegovina (24) | Iran (28) | Nigeria (30)
Group G: Germany (30) | Ghana (26) | *Portugal (23) | USA (30)
Group H:Algeria (30) | Belgium (24) | Russia (23) | South Korea (23)