Mexico City game could be ‘devastating’ for NFL players, says ex-USMNT star
Former United States national soccer team forward Eric Wynalda says the Houston Texans and Oakland Raiders playing a game in Mexico at a higher elevation could be "devastating" to the players' bodies and could lead to severe breathing problems.
The game will played Monday night at Mexico City's Azteca Stadium, which sits at 7,280 feet above sea level. The highest elevation at any NFL stadium is Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver at 5,280 feet.
“Azteca Stadium is the worst place to ever play a sporting event,” Wynalda said to USA Today.
“You can’t breathe. The pollution is so bad that if you don’t have some form of rain that’s brought all that down you are going to be sucking wind," he added. "They (will) break a record for how many oxygen masks they have on the sidelines. The combination of being that high up with pollution is just devastating to the body.”
A local sports medicine and respiration doctor Jorge Avendano Reyes told USA Today that players could experience "headaches, dizziness, sensation of fatigue, accelerated heartbeat, hyperventilation" during the game.
Wynalda disagrees with the notion that the elevation won't be a problem because of the slower pace of football, unlike soccer players that are constantly moving and running around.
"You just have these moments where you click out," said Wynalda, who played 10 years with the USMNT. "You almost feel like you are going to pass out. The players stop for a second, you try to catch your breath, and then it is almost like you’ve just had a very long blink, and something bad happens."
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