Furious Diaz can’t stand the heat at Copa America


Orlando (AFP) – Paraguay’s Argentine coach Ramon Diaz slammed the decision of Copa America organisers to schedule Saturday’s game against Costa Rica during the day as “crazy” after a 0-0 draw played in intense heat.

The temperature at the 5pm local kick-off time in the Citrus Bowl was around  92 degrees fahrenheit (33 degrees celsius).

“It was crazy to play at the time we played,” Diaz told a post-game news conference.

“I would have liked them (the organisers) to take into consideration the players themselves, they are the main part of the show after all,” he added.

“I’ve been in the game a long time and very few times are the players taken into consideration. 

“The kick-off times should be made with players in mind. I know there are commitments with TV and so on but the conditions took their toll,” he added.

Most professional club games held in Florida during the summer, including those of local Major League Soccer team Orlando City, are scheduled for the mid-evening when temperatures have dropped.

Asked if he had ever been involved in a game played in such conditions, Diaz, who performed in Argentina, Italy and Japan during his playing career said: “Never. I really think the players should be respected.”

The Copa America tournament is the biggest international soccer event to be held in the United States since the 1994 World Cup.

Orlando was a venue for that tournament and drew attention after a group game between the Republic of Ireland and Mexico was played at mid-day in a temperature of 105 degrees fahrenheit.

Costa Rica forward Bryan Diaz agreed with his namesake.

“On the pitch it felt even worse than you can imagine. You have to change the way you play. Normally we like to press more but we just couldn’t do it. If we go 40 metres up field and then back 40, it is very difficult in that temperature,” he told AFP.

The Sporting Lisbon striker said competition organisers needed to start to listen to the players about kick-off times in hot conditions.

“It effects the show, you can put on a better game for the fans when you are playing in better conditions,” he said

The game drew a low crowd of 14,334 in the 65,000 capacity stadium in which Orlando City regularly draw crowds around 36,000.

Some local fans took to social media to blame high ticket-prices for the poor attendance.

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