'Schedule is putting players' lives at risk': Calderon

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Players tackling the ball during a match between Al Wasl and Al Shaab at Al Wasl Sports club in Dubai.
Players tackling the ball during a match between Al Wasl and Al Shaab at Al Wasl Sports club in Dubai.

Dubai - Al Wasl's Argentinian boss fears it may take a death on the pitch to instigate change.

By Alexander Leach (Senior Reporter)

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Published: Sat 29 Aug 2015, 12:32 PM

Last updated: Sun 30 Aug 2015, 12:06 PM

Gabriel Calderon has raised the spectre of a player or referee dying on the pitch here in the UAE after insisting it is "impossible" for them to perform in these high temperatures.
Al Wasl may have maintained their 100 per cent start to the season with a 2-0 victory over newly-promoted Al Shaab in the Arabian Gulf Cup (AGC) at Zabeel Stadium on Friday evening - another hot and humid August night under the floodlights.
However, the Cheetahs' latest result had clearly paled into insignificance by the time their Argentinian coach attended his post-match press conference, where he appealed for the fixture compilers to have a rapid re-think of the early kick-off times and the schedule overall.
"I'd like to know which person (at the Pro League Committee - PLC) decided that we should play in this weather because I don't think he should have that responsibility. Do we have to wait for a player or a referee to die to bring about change?" Calderon said.
"You don't have the weather to play now. You have 14 teams and all year to play this competition, so why do you start now? 
"I'm afraid that a player or a referee will die on the pitch with the weather as it is at present. Insha'Allah (God willing), nothing will happen, but it's very dangerous."
Calderon cited Hazza Salem's 24-hour stint in hospital following their 2-1 win at Al Jazira nine days ago as clear evidence of just how the current climate is having an adverse effect on the players' health.
Equally as worrying though for him is the fact that, rather than getting later, the kick-off times are instead progressively getting even earlier with their next match against Al Nasr scheduled to start at 5:45pm on Friday (September 4th). They played Shaab at 5:55pm and Jazira at 8:45pm.
"The Al Nasr derby match is at 5:45pm. That's crazy," Calderon continued. 
"The people who had this idea of a 5:45pm kick-off don't play football. They need to change the kick-off because it's not possible to play at that time. A5:45pm kick-off in 45 degrees Celsius? It's incredible and very dangerous for the players. 
"To the people with the responsibility, I urge you to change the kick-off. You have the time, so please don't endanger the lives of the players and the referee.
"You have to protect the lives of the players and the referee. You have a big responsibility when we're talking about protecting peoples' lives."
Calderon's concerns were shared by Al Shabab boss Caio Junior after the Hawks laboured to a narrow 3-2 success over another Arabian Gulf League newcomer in Dibba Al Fujairah 24 hours earlier.
"It's impossible to play in this weather," the Brazilian said. "It's very difficult for the players as, when you lose the ball in attack, it's impossible to come back. I still need to understand this situation." 

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