Maradona fumes over 42-degree Olympic final heat
Monday, 25 August 2008

AFP, BEIJING - Diego Maradona claimed on Saturday it was "inhuman" to play the Olympic Games men's football final in temperatures recorded at a sizzling 42 degrees Celsius.

"It's inhuman. The players can't breathe and it's difficult to run. The heat is unbearable," said the Argentine football legend as the South Americans beat Nigeria 1-0 to defend their Olympic title in a game which kicked off at 12:00 (0400GMT).
 
The match, which was played at the "Bird's Nest" national stadium, kicked off early so that the venue could be prepared for the night's athletics programme. It was halted twice to allow the players to drink water.
 
Nigerian coach Samson Siasia said it was wrong to play the final, with FIFA president Sepp Blatter watching from the stands, in such suffocating heat.
 
"It actually affected both countries and most players did not 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."
 
Argentina superstar Lionel Messi admitted the heat was a problem but winning the gold medal was compensation.
 
"It was very hard to play. We were tired and it was very hot, but the energy we had came from knowing that we were playing in the final," said the Barcelona attacker.
 
A FIFA spokesman, who admitted the on-pitch temperature had hit 42 degrees (107 Fahrenheit), said it had been agreed beforehand that the match would be stopped to allow players to drink and avoid dangerous dehydration.
 
"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," he said.
 
"The most dangerous times for the body are between the 30th and 45th minute of each half."

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