World Cup cooling breaks: Fifa refuse to act as Louis van Gaal make most of heat breaks during Netherlands victory over Mexico

Manager used the breaks in 39C heat to change formation

Fifa are unlikely to take action to stop managers using cooling breaks to change tactics and issue orders, as Louis van Gaal did so successfully against Mexico.

The Netherlands manager said he used the second and final cooling break to order Dirk Kuyt to push up from wing-back to the striker’s role in which he has shone for both Liverpool and Fenerbahce. He also told the Dutch team to “give the ball to Arjen Robben whenever you can”. Van Gaal altered his formation from a 3-5-2, which has been heavily criticised by the Dutch media, to a more aggressive 4-3-3.

His Mexican counterpart, Miguel Herrera, did not make an issue of Van Gaal’s  exploitation of the rules, mainly because he had done much the same himself.

Fifa’s regulations state water breaks can be called from the 30th minute of the first half and a quarter of an hour from the end, if pitch side temperatures in the stadium go above 32 degrees. Some estimates before kick-off in Fortaleza had the heat at an  uncomfortable 38 degrees.


There are only three matches left in the north of Brazil, where temperatures are significantly higher than in the south.

All will kick off at 5pm local time when temperatures are unlikely to cross the 32-degree mark. The directive also takes no account of the high  humidity, which has been a critical factor in the tropical climes of Manaus.

Fifa appeared reluctant to accept cooling breaks at all and was prosecuted by a  Brazilian labour court in a  successful attempt to make the regulations mandatory.

The court wanted a 30-degree cut-off point but accepted Fifa’s argument for a higher, 32-degree limit. Fifa also rejected an argument from the Brazilian players’ union that all 1pm games be moved back to 4pm to  protect the footballers.