Players at "breaking point" as intense workload highlighted ahead of Champions League final


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  • FIFPRO and Professional Footballers’ Association presented Player Workload Monitoring data which detailed most overworked players around the globe

  • Stakeholders from player unions, Premier League, La Liga and more engaged in constructive dialogue on panels focusing on extreme workload and collective action

  • Event took place in London two days before the UEFA Champions League final between Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid at Wembley Stadium

Footballers and unions may take collective action to combat the cannibalised men's international match calendar as players have reached "breaking point" with the dangerous level of games they are expected to play – with more matches to come next season as a result of expanded UEFA club competitions and a 32-team FIFA Club World Cup.

On Thursday, two days before the UEFA Champions League final between Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid in London, FIFPRO and the Professional Footballers’ Association presented the latest Player Workload Monitoring findings detailing the most overworked players in the current game.

Panel discussions with multiple stakeholders followed where representatives from player unions such as UNFP (France), AIC (Italy) and SJFP (Portugal), and major leagues such as the Premier League and La Liga, engaged in constructive dialogue to find solutions to the extreme workload of elite-level players.

The event was headlined by a multi-stakeholder panel on collective action and the need to protect players and national markets.

Representatives from player unions and major European leagues, including PFA CEO Maheta Molango, Premier League CEO Richard Masters, La Liga President Javier Tebas and AIC President Umberto Calcagno, engaged in constructive dialogue on extreme workload and collective action, and the need for the player voice to be heard amidst a congested calendar with few protected rest periods for players.

FIFPRO Europe President David Terrier warned players are at "breaking point" as a result of the overloaded calendar.

Terrier said: "We can no longer carry on in this way. The players are at the limit and the international calendar is full to the brim. We have a choice: we can either stay on this track or we can have a vision that will listen to players and national competitions."

PWM Event London David
FIFPRO Europe President David Terrier
PWM Stakeholders London
Left to right: Premier League CEO Richard Masters, PFA CEO Maheta Molango, La Liga President Javier Tebas, and AIC President Umberto Calcagno
Dr Darren Burgess PWM
Dr Darren Burgess
Samantha Johnson PWM
Samantha Johnson
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Martin Tyler
London Panel PWM
Left to right: Prof Dr Vincent Gouttebarge, Henry Winter, Joaquim Evangelista, Paulo Barreira, Dr Darren Burgess

Alexander Bielefeld, FIFPRO’s Director of Global Policy & Strategic Relations Men's Football, reflected on a milestone event. He said: "It’s the first time that we have the chief executives of La Liga, the Premier League, and the bosses of player unions in Italy and England, together alongside other unions such as Portugal and France, to speak with one voice on national markets and players in terms of rest and the respect for collective agreements at national level.

"From our perspective it’s a milestone, and hopefully it can advance the discussions to implement regulations on workload to protect player performance and health and safety."

Hosted by Samantha Johnson, the event kicked off with an introduction from FIFPRO Europe President David Terrier before Dr Darren Burgess, chair of the newly formed FIFPRO High-Performance Advisory Network (HPAN), shared Player Workload Monitoring key findings for the 2023/24 season. It detailed how players such as Julian Alvarez (Manchester City and Argentina) have featured in 70 matchday squads already this season – with potentially more games to come due to continental tournaments taking place after the club season.

Burgess also introduced the launch of HPAN, a dedicated platform for elite performance coaches to drive discussion and provide expert feedback on priority topics including player workload and performance technology.

A panel on extreme player workload soon followed. Moderated by FIFPRO’s Chief Medical Officer Prof Dr Vincent Gouttebarge, it contained expert voices – including Dr Burgess, Sporting Lisbon performance coach Paulo Barreira, renowned football writer Henry Winter, and Portuguese player union president Joaquim Evangelista – where dangers to player health and performance were discussed.

The event concluded with the multi-stakeholder panel on collective action and the need to protect players and national markets.

"The problem is real," said Masters. "We’re starting to see the impact of decisions made by regional and international bodies. The calendar is getting less harmonious with every decision that is being made."

Molango concluded: "It's not only just a problem of their welfare, or a problem of the few and privileged players, it's a problem for the industry. It's not only affecting just the mental well-being of players, but also the quality of the show."