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Page last updated at 15:21 GMT, Saturday, 23 August 2008 16:21 UK

Dangerous heat for Olympic final

As Nigeria failed to win their second gold in the Olympic men's football tournament, questions will be asked as to why Saturday's final was played at midday.

Diego Maradona
Maradona swelters in the heat at the Bird's Nest stadium
The temperature inside the Bird's Nest stadium reached 42 degrees, and play was stopped twice to allow players to drink water, in a match won 1-0 by Argentina.

The game had an early kick-off so that the venue could be used for the evening's athletics programme.

But Argentina legend Diego Maradona claimed that it was "inhuman" to play the final in such conditions.

"The players can't breathe and it's difficult to run. The heat is unbearable," said Maradona, who watched the game along with Fifa president Sepp Blatter.

Nigeria coach Samson Siasia said the conditions took their toll on both teams.

"It actually affected both countries and most players didn't play to their best abilities because of the heat," said Siasia.

"Although we don't make the rules and we were told to play I don't think it was a good idea to play at noon."

Fifa's chief medical officer Jiri Dvorak was at the stadium specifically to monitor the heat and ensure the conditions were safe for the players.

He said that it had been agreed beforehand that the match would be stopped to allow players to drink and avoid dangerous dehydration.

"We are worried with heat stroke and other problems players may suffer in this kind of weather

Fifa medical officer Jiri Dvorak
"With the temperature being very high it was agreed with the teams and their medical staff that there would be two breaks during the game to allow the players to drink at 30 and 70 minutes," Dvorak said.

"The most dangerous times for the body are between the 30th and 45th minute of each half."

"We are worried with heat stroke and other problems players may suffer in this kind of weather.

The extra breaks took about two minutes each, and world football's governing body doubled the medical staff for the match.


see also
Argentina brave heat to take gold
23 Aug 08 |  Football
Messi makes the difference
23 Aug 08 |  African


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