“Obviously we play too many matches, it’s a surprise to no one.” Signed Aurélien Tchouaméni, midfielder for Real Madrid and the French team. Before the Netherlands-France last October, the 23-year-old warned of the risks of an overloaded schedule for the health of athletes.
An unfortunately premonitory speech. The former Bordeaux and Monaco player suffered a stress fracture in his left foot a few weeks later, during the Clasico against Real Madrid. To compensate for his absence from the Blues, Didier Deschamps counted in particular on Eduardo Camavinga and Warren Zaire-Emery. Missed. The first left the rally before France-Gibraltar, victim of a ruptured knee ligament in training. The second will not play again in 2023 due to a sprained ankle, when he had just celebrated his first selection with a goal.
The Tricolores are far from being the only victims of this international truce, which is (even) not yet over. Vinicius (Brazil), Gavi (Spain), Rashford (England), Onana (Cameroon), Haaland (Norway), ter Stegen (Germany) are all on the mat, with more or less serious injuries. However, it is not for lack of warning. Between national championships, cups, European competitions and national selections, the players experience a hellish pace.
“Today, it’s rare to have a week with just one match,” says Aurélien Tchouaméni. This results in injuries. It is up to the authorities and the players to bang their fists on the table, we have the impression that things are not going to get better with new competitions planned in the future. For a player, it is practically impossible to play 80-90 matches. Something has to be done. When it’s too much, it becomes a problem.”
Same story from his coach, Didier Deschamps, for whom “the calendars are overloaded, with a very high pace, increasingly short recovery and preparation times”. His counterpart Pep Guardiola believes that "if all the players decided themselves to say 'Stop', things would perhaps change." The Spanish coach of Manchester City recalls a fundamental fact, which could influence the position of the authorities: “In this profession, the show must go on. Without Pep, continue, but without the players, the show will not continue. Fifa or UEFA would perhaps react a little if that happened.”
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Fifa still seems far from this type of consideration. This is evidenced by the organization of the 2022 World Cup in the middle of last season (November 20-December 18). This has increased the severity of injuries suffered by footballers playing in the big five leagues, according to a study by insurance group Howden. Average downtime increased from 11.35 days to 19.41.
For the clubs, the consequences of this massacre are not only sporting, but also financial. The study notes a 30% increase in expenses since the end of 2022, to compensate for the loss of injured people. A FIFA regulation also requires it to compensate teams when a player is injured for more than 28 days. The compensation amounts to approximately 20,000 euros per day of absence. A sum, especially this fall with the spectacular number of injuries. But a drop in the ocean for Fifa, which should not review its plans anytime soon.