PREMIER LEAGUE clubs will discuss proposals for the introduction of official water breaks this week.
Medical staff are concerned about the consequences of football returning in the heat of mid-summer.
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And a clause in Fifa’s rulebook allows for two designated periods where players can rehydrate during games.
But the issue is complicated by the fact coronavirus safety protocol requires every player and match official to have their own water bottle.
There are concerns delays in preparing and identifying 26 bottles could extend games by up to ten minutes.
Project Restart plans approved at last week’s Premier League meeting have earmarked games to kick off at midday on Saturday and at 12.30pm on Sunday when football emerges from lockdown in 16 days’ time.
But with temperatures expected to soar beyond 30 degrees, players will need extra fluids.
Fifa first introduced official water breaks for the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil, when play was stopped for three minutes in the 30th and 75th minutes.
This rule was also implemented at last year’s Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.
The Spanish league introduced a similar rule in 2018 for when the mercury hits 32 degrees.
But the request for breaks in LaLiga has to be submitted at least 30 minutes before kick-off and if only one team agrees, then it is up to the referee to decide.
The Premier League brought in water breaks during a heatwave in August 2015 which saw matches stopped after 25 minutes for a 90-second rehydration rest.
But the move was booed by many fans and Match of the Day host Gary Lineker tweeted: ‘We’ve got water breaks all over the place. The game’s gone.”
In recent years refs have used common sense and allowed players to grab a quick drink during a break in play.
The same principle has also been applied in pre-season friendlies, but that has been achieved by players sharing bottles.
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Now they must drink from their own sterile bottles, which will need to be lined up on the side of the pitch and kept two metres apart.
A vote on drink breaks will take place at Thursday’s Premier League stakeholders meeting.
It is all part of the continuing talks for the return of top-flight football on June 17.