FIFA's chief medical officer said on Monday that all World Cup players will undergo extensive new pre-tournament cardiovascular tests but any decision to sideline anyone rests solely with the teams.
Jiri Dvorak told a news conference after meetings with the medical directors of all 32 teams coming to Germany for the June 9-July 9 tournament that FIFA wants to increase awareness and prevention of ailments that can lead to severe injury or death.
"It is not up to us as the organisers of the tournament to intervene in the diagnosis and treatment," Dvorak said.
"We cannot take over the responsibility of the doctors. What we will demand of the federations is that they examine their players and confirm the player is in good physical condition. It's up to the federations to decide whether a player is fit."
He said FIFA, which hopes the test will help prevent cardiac arrest or even death as happen! ed in the 2003 Confederations Cup, will not publish any of the health warnings or medical details on any player because of doctor-patient confidentiality rules.
"We as an institution cannot interfere with a contract between a physician and a player," said Dvorak.
"FIFA can advise and educate but will not interfere. Our aim is to raise awareness for physicians so that they take their decisions."
There have been several deaths related to heart ailments recently. Cameroon's Marc-Vivien Foe collapsed and died in Confederation! s Cup match in 2003. Miklos Feher of Benfica died in 2004 and Hugo Cunha of Uniao Leiria in 2005.
"We want to raise the awareness of that rare situation but one that does exist," Dvorak said, referring to undiagnosed heart problems that can strike down young and even the most physically fit soccer players at the height of their careers.
FIFA have announced that 125 defibrillators will be available at the 12 World Cup venues -- for heart emergencies involving players, staff and spectators. "The national associations said they will sign declarations that all their players are in a physical condition that they can perform at the World Cup," Dvorak said.
He said that FIFA's battle against doping and drugs has been successful. With 22,000 doping tests per year worldwide, more soccer players were tested than in any other sport. Athletics followed with 19,000 and cycling was third with 13,000, he said.
There were only 0.05 percent positive tests -- and most of those for marijuana or cocaine. That is wel! l below the positive test number for all sports of 0.5 percent, he said. The number of positive steroid tests worldwide the last two years was 24.
"We hope that we have informed players around the world that doping has no place in football," Dvorak said, noting the last two World Cups in 1998 and 2002 had no doping incidents.
The last positive test was in 1994 -- Argentina's Diego Maradona. "We've explained it is difficult to enhance football performance (with doping). You need speed, endurance, coordination and balance! . It's difficult to find substances that would account for all that. Team sports are less prone to doping abuses."
Dvorak said FIFA would conduct unannounced doping tests before the World Cup and two players per team chosen at random would be tested after each World Cup match.