Skip to content Skip to Search
Skip navigation

Overworked footballers ‘fatigued’ ahead of Qatar World Cup, says union

File Photo - May 10, 2022 Liverpool's Mohamed Salah REUTERS/Craig Brough

The fixture demands on the world’s best players has already crossed a red line and is risking their health, the general secretary of the players’ union (FIFPRO) said on Tuesday.

Speaking at the Global Sports Week forum in Paris, Jonas Baer-Hoffmann told reporters: “The red line was probably crossed a few years ago to be honest. The calendar is already overloaded for the elite players and it’s underloaded for the players of the lower leagues who try to make a living.”

Liverpool, who are chasing an unprecedented quadruple of Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup and Champions League, will have played 63 games by the end of the season, with most of their squad also involved in national team duty.

The 2022-23 season promises to be even more gruelling with the World Cup in Qatar from Nov. 21-Dec. 18 while the reformed Champions League format for the 2024/25 season will add four games a year for the clubs involved in the group stage.

“What we’ve said for a long time, to FIFA, to UEFA a while ago, is that we believe no additional matches should be coming into the calendar until we have proper safeguards for the health and safety of the athletes, which means mandatory off-season breaks, mid-season breaks and certain rules on travels and breaks between matches,” Baer-Hoffmann explained.

“We’ve got players sometimes who play eight, nine matches in a row without having five or six days of break in between and this is not sustainable.”

The German believes that unless concessions are made by authorities, players will be forced to skip some competitions.

“So far unfortunately all the competition organisers have been trying nevertheless to stretch the calendar further and there’s gonna be a point of friction,” he warned.

“The problem of this inflation model of the calendar is that in the end the same players are playing all the competitions. I’d love to have inflation in the Scottish League. Give them four more clubs and players can actually have a better career, but it’s all about the elite.

“We will get to the point where they play the Champions League but they don’t play Ligue 1, or they want to come to the national team but they’re so fatigued that they can’t perform.”