PFA puts heat on FFA for kick-offs change

The Professional Footballers’ Australia says it fears it’ll take a serious player illness or worse caused by playing in oppressive heat for the FFA to take seriously their push for scheduling changes.

The PFA have long advocated that no A-League games kick off before 6pm, given the season is played during summer, unlike most other countries.

Perth Glory were scheduled to take on Adelaide United at 5pm on Monday in Perth, with the temperature predicted to rise to 41C during the day.

On Sunday, the FFA pushed back the start time of Monday’s game from 5pm to 5.30pm, following dialogue initiated by the PFA during Friday’s Victory-Glory game in Geelong, where temperatures reached 37C earlier in the day.

Perth’s three-hour difference means games often kick off earlier in the evening due to Fox Sports obligations, to suit the eastern seaboard TV audience.

The PFA said it would continue to push for a 6pm kick-off for Monday’s game.

PFA chief executive Adam Vivian said he feared the worst was required to jolt the FFA into action.

“The biggest concern the players have is, is it going to take a significant heat illness or heat ailment or worse, to see meaningful change?” Vivian told FourFourTwo.

“I appreciate the commercial needs but we can’t put those ahead of the human factors, especially when it comes to heat and health.

“The preference is no games kicked off before 6pm, it’s as simple as that.”

Vivian pointed to the flow-on effects, beyond player health and safety concerns, such as fan comfort, which could affect attendances, and the standard of play as important factors for consideration.

Last February, Melbourne Heart played Glory in Albury, with the game pushed back from a 3pm kick-off time to 5pm, as the temperature reached 40C.

Vivian insisted the FFA’s heat policy was sound, but wanted more flexibility in scheduling arrangements particularly in the week leading up to matches.

“There has to be flexibility and open dialogue when it comes to health and safety for players and fans,” Vivian said.

“There needs to be a true tripartite agreement, between the commercial implications, the FFA and the players to see a genuine interest in player health and safety and be forthcoming with ideas, rather than being reactive the day before.

“I think a lot of this stuff is foreseeable, you can check weather on your phone a week in advance.”

Vivian suggested the issue may also rear its head during the upcoming 2015 Asian Cup, where foreign teams will be playing in unfamiliar conditions with kick-off times ranging from 4pm to 8pm.