If it’s good enough or the World Cup, it’s certainly good enough for our domestic leagues, especially during seasons that play through the American summer. So with immediate effect, the National Women’s Soccer League has instituted a procedure to allow for mid-half “cooling breaks,” if conditions at a game reach a pre-match threshold.
The procedure is similar to that which was instituted at this summer’s World Cup, with the United States’s June 22 match in Manaus against Portugal the first to be paused because of heat. As it was in Brazil, NWSL officials will meet with representatives from each team before the game (60 minutes, in the case of the NWSL). If the heat index is in excess of the league’s threshold 89 degrees, Fahrenheit), the official will call for water breaks to be taken in the 30th and 75th minutes.
From the league’s Wednesday announcement:
The cooling break procedure comes as a precaution to keep players and match officials safe in the event of dangerous climate conditions during matches. Cooling breaks will be considered on a match-by-match basis and implementation of the breaks will be managed solely by the referee. […]
The ball must be out of play in order for the break to commence. Upon signal from the referee, the break will commence for both teams and all match officials. Both teams will go to their respective team areas for the break. The clock will continue to run and all time allotted for the break will be added to stoppage time.
If anybody complains about breaks disrupting the flow of a match, open your right hand and “bop” them on the temple. Lightly, of course. Pretend they’re an eight-year-old refusing to listen. This is just common sense stuff, and as we saw at Brazil 2014, the effect on a match is minimal.
Yes, there was an effect. After all, play stops. But whether we like to admit it or not, it’s not uncommon for a soccer game to come to a halt, but if for fouls, cautions, injuries, or goals. Seemingly, some reasons are more acceptable (read: traditional) than others.
Health-related seems like a pretty good reason to pause. Even those who see it as unduly cautious must concede, they’re erring on the side of safety.