Footballers are already experiencing fatigue due to the ongoing competition cycle, back-to-back matches and a lack of adequate rest and recovery during the European summer period. This, in turn, is putting them at an elevated risk of stress and injury. The duty of care to footballers must be the most important principle throughout the period of the emergency calendar implemented during the covid-19 pandemic.
“The intensive current match calendar not only risks players’ health, but also risks undermining their performance at the UEFA European Championship and FIFA World Cup Qatar in 2022”
FIFPRO strongly supports the efforts of the football industry to continue to play despite the fast-changing and unpredictable nature of the pandemic. However, the intensive current match calendar, with barely any off- and in-season breaks for players, not only risks their health but also risks undermining their performance at the forthcoming UEFA European Championship and FIFA World Cup Qatar in 2022.
It is clear that during these extraordinary times, the football industry needs to focus on the most relevant competitions and games to limit unnecessary travel, stress and physical workload as well as possible exposure to the virus and lengthy quarantine periods. Furthermore, it is evident that all domestic competitions must adopt the temporary measure to implement five substitutes in order to ease mental and physical pressure on players.
Player safeguards must include:
- Mandatory minimum four-week off-season break
- Integration of flexible two-week in-season breaks
- Individual load management protocols
- Pre-season training periods of at least four weeks
- Mental and physical-health support
- Mandatory implementation of five-substitution rule
In order to provide an evidence-based overview of player workload at a global level and to help manage the future development of adequate player safeguards, FIFPRO has committed to developing an online monitoring tool to track player workload, season breaks as well as the impact of travel and injuries.