Perth Glory coach Alistair Edwards has launched a scathing attack on Football Federation Australia after his A-League team had to face Adelaide United in scorching heat on Saturday.
FFA oversees the running of the A-League and despite the temperature in Perth rising to 37C by midday and still being 33C by kick-off at 2.30pm (local time), the Glory’s game went ahead and ended in a 1-1 draw.
Both clubs wanted the game shifted to a later start time to avoid their players having to be out in the middle of the afternoon sun, but FFA and A-League administrators did not grant the request.
Both Edwards and his Adelaide counterpart Josep Gombau were concerned for the welfare of their players in the conditions, making for a sour start to Perth marquee recruit William Gallas’ A-League stint.
After the match, Edwards revealed the two-time French World Cup representative and English Premier League star defender would have started on Saturday had it not been so hot.
“Gallas would have started the game but there was no way that we can play a player like that, who just hopped off the plane, and it ruins it for everyone,” Edwards said.
“He was set to start and we still hoped the fixture would be changed so he could, but there’s no way that I’m going to do that to a player like Gallas.
“He would have started and everyone has missed out. We are trying to grow the game in this country by bringing world-class players here, but the timing of the game meant he couldn’t start.”
In the post-match press conference, Edwards suggested whoever decided the game had to be played at 2.30pm had no interest in the safety of players.
“We ask for a simple request to have the game at a reasonable time so that it doesn’t affect the players’ welfare and they still don’t listen so it’s very frustrating from that point of view,” Edwards said.
“Whoever made the decision that it had to be played at this time is clearly not acting in the best interests of the players.
“As a coach, to make the players play under those conditions is totally unacceptable for me.
“I just thought that surely sanity and commonsense would prevail but it’s just wrong. I hope we don’t ever have to put our elite athletes under that duress ever again.”
Gombau agreed the game should not have been played in the afternoon heat.
“For us to play under these conditions is difficult for everybody and it’s not just about football, it’s also not healthy for the players to play in this weather,” Gombau said.
“I think this game should have been played at about 5 o’clock and everybody would have enjoyed it more – the fans, the players and the football would have been better if they didn’t play on this hot day.”