Two Manchester United players have been named by global players’ union Fifpro as they demand ‘urgent action’ against an increasingly over-the-top schedule for footballers.
The Fifpro report is cited in The Times, with pressure building on FIFA to tackle an excessive number of club and international games.
Manchester United’s players have played less this season than in 2020/21, when the team reached the Europa League final.
The Fifpro report states: “The message is clear — players and coaches are telling us that too many matches across too many overlapping competitions are pushing us to our physical limits. The risk of severe injury and mental strain is growing fast. Back-to-back matches depriving players of proper rest are starting to do real harm.”
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Fifpro report demands action
Two Manchester United players are used as examples of being ‘overworked’ in the Fifpro report, conducted with Football Benchmark, a digital data and analytics platform.
Harry Maguire is one of them, with the centre-back playing in 19 consecutive matches for the club between December 2020 and February 2021, described as an ‘excessive workload’ for this timeframe, without sufficient rest in between.
Fifpro say: “Harry Maguire did not have the recommended five days of rest between them once. This finding serves as proof as to why the introduction of back-to-back match regulations is fundamental to protect player health and well-being.”
Maguire got injured towards the end of the 2020/21 season and missed the Europa League final, before rushing back to play Euro 2020, after a campaign in which he played a total of 52 games for his club.
This season his form trailed off dramatically, albeit with a reduced 37 game workload.
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The second player named is Marcus Rashford, who has also seen his form take a nosedive this season.
The report found four of Rashford’s seven professional seasons have seen him play 50 plus games in all competitions.
Fifpro also expressed concern about players having to travel excessively to international tournaments, and not getting the ‘minimum’ four weeks summer rest.
United barely got a break between the 2020 and 2021 seasons due to the pandemic pushing the finale of the 2020 Europa League campaign back into August, before a September start date for the season, which United started slowly.
Another player undoubtedly impacted by the schedule has been Bruno Fernandes, whose form has also dipped.
Fernandes played a staggering 134 games in a 22 month period for club and country, on numerous occasions getting just two full rest days between games.
Whether FIFA listen, at a time when Champions League and World Cup formats are scheduled to increase the number of fixtures, is another matter, but there appears to be some momentum among players, who support the Fifpro report.
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