June 9 – Football must do more to protect players against “dangerous levels” of fixture congestion exemplified by having the Qatar World Cup slap bang in the middle of the season, according to the international players union.
In its latest report, FIFPro reports that nearly half the players competing at last year’s tournament experienced extreme or increased mental fatigue.
They had little time to prepare or recover, said FIFPro, adding that that new Champions League and Club World Cup formats could pose a further threat to player welfare. Changes to both competitions from the 2024-25 season could see an 11% increase in the number of matches.
FIFpro is calling for mandatory season breaks to protect players’ mental and physical health.
In its Player Workload Monitoring (PWM) report for the season, it specifically focussed on the impact of the World Cup.
“The extreme levels of calendar congestion evident over the course of the season posed a pressing danger to the physical and mental health of players,” FIFPro said. “The increasing demands placed upon the game’s leading young players must also be reflected upon as concerns grow for the health and longevity of their burgeoning careers.”
FIFPro are concerned about the future, highlighting how the 2024-25 season, with the expansion of the Champions League and Club World Cup, could see an 89-game season for players at leading clubs.
“Evidence shows that the cannibalisation of the match calendar is putting more mental and physical stress on today’s elite players than the previous generation,” FIFPro General Secretary Jonas Baer-Hoffmann said.
“Even though some are having to reduce their commitments or leave the game early, there is no sign of a solution to protect them.
“The match calendar from 2024/2025 will put more pressure on their health and careers. Together, all of us have a duty of care towards these players and the industry must fast-track the implementation of actions that look after their health and wellbeing.”
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