NZF doctor sounds heat alarm after Phoenix wilt

Football Federation Australia is under increasing pressure to reassess kick-off times after the dangers of heat exhaustion were raised by New Zealand Football’s head doctor.

Wellington Phoenix lost 2-1 to Brisbane Roar in Cairns on Saturday and coach Ernie Merrick made no secret of the fact that heat and humidity played a huge role in the result.

Young Phoenix leftback Tom Doyle was taken ill before the match at Cazaly’s Stadium as the mercury hit 33 degrees with 60 per cent humidity.

According to, NZF doctor Mark Fulcher has urged Phoenix to take up the matter with the FFA and warned that games should never be played in such conditions.

Fulcher said that US pre-season and collegiate sport accounted for one death a year from heat exhaustion.

Reacting to the 4.15pm (local time) kick-off, Merrick said: "It was a decision that was obviously made by somebody who has never played football."

He added: “The longer the game went on the more we deteriorated due to the weather conditions and they adapted well.

“They play and train regularly in this type of heat in Brisbane. We knew that it would come down to that.

“I can only praise the boys but we’re going away feeling as though we should have at least gotten a draw out of it.”

Phoenix take on Sydney at home on Saturday but are in a race against time to be fit for the Sky Blues encounter.

Merrick told the Dominion Post: "I don't how many sessions we'll get in this week. Probably only one decent coaching session, the rest of the time will be recovery."