The FIFA Council’s decision today to schedule the first edition of the 32-team FIFA Club World Cup between 15 June and 13 July 2025 without implementing further player workload safeguards demonstrates a lack of consideration for the mental and physical health of participating players, as well as a disregard for their personal and family lives.
The expanded competition will undercut the rest and recovery time of these players at the end of the 2024/25 season, and further disrupt national employment markets by changing the balance between national and international competitions. Players will have to perform at the end of an 11-month season with little prospect of getting enough rest before the following season starts.
The extreme mental and physical pressures at the pinnacle of the game is the principal concern of players with multiple club and national team competitions, leading to exhaustion, physical injuries, mental health issues, diminished performance, and risks to career longevity. They have repeatedly voiced concerns about mounting workload to their national player unions.
However, once again, decisions to scale competitions have been introduced without implementing appropriate safeguards, and without any say from the players who are at the forefront of driving the game’s popularity and revenue generation with their skill and endeavour.
Unfortunately, FIFA’s announcement in March 2023 for a working group on player welfare principles has seen no follow-up and requests by FIFPRO to launch this process have gone unanswered. Consequently, FIFA’s current process to address the global issue of the match calendar has not only excluded the player unions on the future format of competitions but has ignored the voice of players when it comes to their own health, well-being, and performance.
As a matter of urgency, FIFPRO is calling for FIFA to facilitate discussions with all football stakeholders about the introduction of a basic set of player health and safety regulations to support the welfare of professional footballers.