November 16 – The danger of having the World Cup in the middle of the European season has been starkly highlighted by the world players’ union Fifpro warning ominously of a greater risk of injury due to the demands of a congested calendar.
Fifpro, which represents 65,000 professional footballers worldwide, has warned of an “unprecedented” workload on players attending the tournament in Qatar.
World Cups since 1990 have seen an average of 31 days of preparation time before tournaments and 37 days of recovery time after, but the respective figures for this World Cup are seven days and eight days, according to the Fifpro report, ‘FIFA World Cup 2022: The Player Workload Journey’.
The English Premier League seems likely to be worst hit since it resumes on Boxing Day – just eight days after the World Cup finishes.
“After a packed first half of the current league season, the average preparation and recovery time for many players will be seven and eight days respectively, around four times less than usual,” the report stated.
“This is likely to increase the risk of muscle injuries and mental stress. Significantly reduced preparation and recovery periods before and after this World Cup pose a worrying threat to players’ health and hamper performance optimisation.”
The report also analysed player workload between July 2021 and October 2022, finding that some of the World Cup’s most coveted players played over 7,200 minutes.
In the past players have had a short break between the end of the season and the start of the World Cup. But not this time with the tournament in Qatar being staged in winter.
“The information underscores the psychological and bodily pressure … attributable to a crowded match schedule that doesn’t correctly take note of their well-being and efficiency,” said FIFPRO deputy, Simon Colosimo.
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