How injuries this season have shown UEFA’s 75 games per season football schedule will never work
Voices to limit the number of games in football have been ringing in European corridors for quite a few seasons now
The European football elite is no doubt the biggest money minters of the sport on the planet. The continent attracts the biggest names in the sport who wish to be in the eyeballs of the billions of fans of what is the most storied stage of the most global sport in the world.
However, the passion for eyeballs and the want for an ever-increasing audience by the money-making organisations of the game might be affecting the players more so than thought earlier. The sheer number of games played in a stipulated amount of time by an established footballer in a top-five European league is astounding.
For example, Manchester City’s Rodri was their most used player in their treble-winning campaign last season. The Spaniard played an astounding 68 matches last season, a number which is bound to take a physical and mental toll on any player.
Manchester City began this season with the Community Shield final against Arsenal on 6th August, which is less than two months from their victory in the Champions League final against Internazionale In Istanbul, which took place on 11th June.
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has been a long-time critic of the extended number of games played every season. Before the start of the ongoing campaign, he was quoted as saying. –
“The problem is here [mental]. They are exhausted. Look already how many players are injured in the pre-season in bad conditions: humidity, hot, the pitches are not really good – especially in the States. But it is what it is. We have to adapt, and adjust, but it’s not normal. But every year it’s getting worse and worse and it will be getting worse and I don’t know how it’s going to end, honestly,” Guardiola said.”
Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti also made his discontentment with the players’ packed schedule public last season. The former Chelsea and Milan boss, while talking about last season’s schedule, said. –
“The schedule doesn’t make sense. It’s too tight, with too many games. You have to evaluate a little the health of the players, who are the most important part of football.
“Here everyone thinks about themselves: LaLiga, the federation, UEFA, FIFA. The players don’t count for anything for them and this is not correct. Something has to be changed, there are too many games.
“I have also heard that we have given too many days off. I looked at the calendar and I told myself I was wrong but no. In four months, since December 30, we have had eight days off, not taking into account the national team break. There have been only eight.”
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In spite of two elite managers making their problems with hectic schedules public, the story this season remains similar.
The difference between last season’s ending and this one beginning was only two months. We are a quarter into the season and have already seen two international breaks, the second one of which will end on the 23rd of November after which players will go straight into their respective league fixtures. With many players availing recovery time of less than a day.
This season’s Champions League final takes place on 1 June with the European Championships starting less than two weeks later. At the end of the 2024-25 season, there will be a 32-team Club World Cup in America.
A lot of voices have also been coming from the player’s corner. The unusually high number of football games has severely impacted their recovery time and availability.
A host of big names in Europe have picked up injuries during the ongoing international break, a host of which are believed to be due to over-exertion. Some big names in the list include. – Vinicius Jr (Real Madrid/Brazil), Pablo Gavi (Spain/Barcelona), Zaire-Emery (France/PSG), Eduardo Camavinga (France/Real Madrid), Erling Haaland (Manchester City/Norway), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United/England), Andre Onana (Cameroon/Manchester United), Heung Min-Son (Tottenham Hotspur/Republic of Korea) and Marc Andre Ter Stegen (Germany/Barcelona).
Apart from a list, a host of other Internationals are expected to be out as well.
The ever-increasing number of games has started to show its effect on the players. If the chorus of the sport is to be persevered, its players have to be treated as major stakeholders. A revisit to the system is required as the current system will have more players breaking down than ever, affecting their eventual career span.