June 8, 2018 / 10:15 AM / 11 days ago

Soccer: Players should not play over three games in two weeks, union says

ZURICH (Reuters) - Professional footballers should not play more than three games every two weeks and should have a close-season break of four to six weeks, uninterrupted by pre-season training, their global union FIFPro said on Friday.

FIFPro also called for a minimum 72 hours’ recovery time between games, extra recovery time after long international flights and a mid-season break of between 10 to 14 days.

It’s proposals were based on a survey of 543 professional footballers, conducted between February and April, where one third of those surveyed said they were playing too many matches.

“Some of the world’s leading players feel they are playing more than their comfort level, which makes them vulnerable to injury,” said FIFPro’s medical officer Vincent Gouttebarge.

“It’s important that all national-team members returning to their clubs after the World Cup in Russia are given enough time to fully recuperate.”

Forty percent of the players surveyed said their performances were adversely affected by playing too many matches and the same number said they did not get enough rest between matches, FIFPro said.

Sixty percent said that flights more than two hours long negatively affect their performance, health and recovery time.

FIFPro called on global soccer body FIFA, leagues and clubs to implement its proposals.

“The health and performance capacity of players is not adequately safeguarded in current competition calendars,” said FIFPro general secretary Theo van Seggelen.

“Many players are coming under extreme pressure to perform at their best in difficult circumstances.

“We just recently saw many World Cup players being called up to their national team during a FIFA mandatory rest period (May 21-27) and likely they will join their club teams soon after the tournament as well.”

Van Seggelen said there needed to be a better balance in the international match calendar which sets asides dates for national team matches and international tournaments.

The World Cup in Russia will take place from June 14 to July 15.

Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Christian Radnedge

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