Calendar crunch: FIFPro calls for more time between seasons to allow player recovery

June 22 – Football’s world players’ union has expressed its concern that players are suddenly being asked to play too many games and may not have enough time to fully recover between this season’s revised calendar and the start of the next campaign.

FIFPro says its members must have enough rest between the two seasons before starting pre-season training for the sake of their livelihoods.

The suspension of leagues around the world due to the Covid-19 pandemic has led to many resumed leagues stretching into what would normally be the close season, with the knock-on effect being that competitions will start up again in September.

FIFPro says that the sudden resumption after a three-month enforced break has already led to an increase in injuries, warning that leagues “have so far failed to introduce safeguards to protect player health during what will be a highly-congested schedule.”

“A large percentage of elite-level footballers were already stretched by the match calendar even before the Covid-19 pandemic, with a lack of recovery time between games and insufficient mental and physical rest between seasons.

“Now, since the restart we are seeing a first spike in injuries because of insufficient preparation time and congested match schedules,” it said.

The Champions League and Europa League will conclude in August, straight after the end of domestic campaigns, with the 2020/21 season due to begin the following month, and national team matches squeezed in between.

That’s an incredibly tough ask, says FIFPro.

“It is vital that stakeholders protect players and allow them to perform at their best,” FIFPro said, adding that the issue could not wait until 2024 when a new international calendar is due to be introduced.

The organisation called for the usual five to six week break between seasons, including around three weeks holiday. “It is not acceptable that altering competition calendars leads to pressure to breach these rights.”

“Discussions on match calendar reforms so far have disregarded the responsibility to balance the needs of competition organisers with those of players.”

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