Clubs pay the price for FIFA’s winter World Cup as player injuries rocket upwards

November 20 – Injury severity among players in Europe’s top leagues increased radically following the first ever winter World Cup in Qatar last year, new research has revealed.

Players who took part in the tournament spent more time out because of injury immediately afterwards than in the month before according to accountants Howdens’ Men’s European Football Injury Index.

The study covering England, Spain, Germany, Italy and France showed that injuries suffered in January 2023 led to an average of 19.41 days on the sidelines, compared with 11.35 before Qatar.

The findings highlight an area of increasing concern given that the 2034 World Cup in Saudi Arabia is also almost certain to be staged in winter even though at the time Qatar was regarded as a one-off.

They also vindicate a Fifpro study which found that 44% of players it surveyed who took part in the tournament reported “extreme or increased physical failure” in the month afterwards

“We’ve seen clearly that the staging of a men’s World Cup in a European winter led to players facing an extra eight days on the sidelines in the second half of the season, compared to the first,” said Howden’s head of sport James Burrows.

“The impact was consistent across domestic leagues such as the English Premier League and the German Bundesliga.”

“The data is clear in demonstrating a trend, and we hope our research and analysis will provide Europe’s top clubs with additional insight as they continue to talk to the game’s governing bodies about an improved alignment of the domestic and international calendars and the broad issue of fixture congestion.”

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