so careers at risk –

so careers at risk -


Of Simon Goliath

One of the most congested years ever ended, but in the future it will be increasingly difficult for the players: with the new Champions League and the new Club World Cup they could reach 90 matches in a season

After seeing him drag the Croatia in the final of Nations League
goals and assists againstHollanda reporter approaches Luke Modric: «Will you show me your identity card? At 37 you ran for 120 minutes». The midfielder smiles, happy but tired. The next defeat against Spain will be match number 66 of his season, a figure that — according to the data Opt — places him among the 12 workaholics of one of the busiest years ever, given the World Cup placed in the middle.

The players’ alarm: today we play too much

Eleven months, from July 2022 to the following June, which underlined a theme dear to those who take the field: today we play too much. She yells it loudly there FifPro (International Federation of Professional Footballers) which, in its latest report together with Football Benchmark, has rattled off staggering data. Just think about Vinicius who, at the age of 22, played a total of 18,876 minutes between club and national team, more than double that of Ronaldinho at the same age. Or a Mbappe (48% more than a 24 year old Thierry Henry). Bellingham — who has yet to blow out 20 candles — 30% more than the others were on the field Lampard, Gerrard, Owen and Rooney at the same age. It’s okay to give young people the chance to play, but at this pace there is a risk that they cannot guarantee long-term success.

The Varane case: no to the national team at 29 due to too many matches

In fact, similar calendars are causing them more physical and mental stress than the previous generation. Today there are more competitions, the World and European Championships have more teams, the game has changed (in Qatar, for example, the average distance covered has increased compared to Russia 2018, as has the amount of injury time allowed). Not to mention the trips, which have increased dramatically. In February, the choice of monitor lizards, defender of Manchester United, to give up the national team at just 29 years old. He who was a pillar with his 93 appearances: «But the races with the club are already many – he justified himself – I fear that we will see ever shorter careers and that my teammates will sacrifice the possibility of representing their country ever more quickly. What is asked of us physically and mentally is exceeding all limits».

Players, clubs, organisers: nobody makes money

From 2018 to 2023 Varane played 60% of his matches without the minimum rest limit recommended by FifPro (5 days). In the same period he spent 243 days in the national team, traveling over 50,000 km and in an average of 22 different time zones. Also Lautaro (67 matches in the season, second only to Bruno Fernandes’ 70) now has pe

rs the account of the flights taken between Italy and Argentina. In October 2021 he played in Buenos Aires against Peru and after 38 hours he was already on the pitch for Inter. He plays a lot, sleeps little and gets hurt (686 injuries in the Premier League, 679 in Serie A, the two most troubled leagues). Which doesn’t suit anyone: football players suffer, clubs suffer economic damage (19 Liverpool players have missed at least one matchday in the championship, which is one of the reasons why the Reds didn’t qualify for the Champions League and will have to do without its riches) and the competitions are losing appeal (which give the “lame” Mbappé from the round of 16 with Bayern for the Champions League).

In the future it will be worse and worse

But the situation will not improve, on the contrary. From the 2024/25 season, 11% more games will be played. Considering the summer friendlies, a player from a top club could exceed the 90 mark. The new Champions will go from 32 to 36 teams, 17 matches and no longer 13 will be needed to win it. The Club World Cup will be played in the USA between June and July, the participants will expand from the current 7 to the expected 32. This will deprive players of further rest days (they should be at least 28, still second FifPro) between the end of one season and the start of the next. At this rate, seeing a 37-year-old handsome, perky and smiling like Modric in the middle of the field will be increasingly rare.

June 25, 2023 (change June 25, 2023 | 07:32)


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