Players Just ‘Puppets’ In A Dangerous Game – The International Break That Should Never Have Happened

Players Just ‘Puppets’ In A Dangerous Game – The International Break That Should Never Have Happened


Scheduling three games into a slot normally allocated for two has only put more pressure on pros who are already at a critical point.

On Wednesday night, the Republic of Ireland avoided relegation from Group B4 of the Nations League with a terrible 0-0 draw against Bulgaria.

“It’s not something to celebrate,” manager Stephen Kenny later admitted. And it was not so. It was a game without a crowd, without goals and without purpose.

It was a game that should never have been played within an international hiatus that should never have happened.

What happened in Dublin provided the few people who dared to watch on television a horrible but accurate description of pandemic football.

Both sets of players gave their all, there was no shortage of pure strain challenges, but the standard was shocking, and not just because this was a game between two low-ranking teams.

Bulgaria was deprived of 15 players by a combination of injury or Covid-19; Ireland was left without 13.

The negative effect was as significant as it was inevitable. As Lille coach Christophe Galtier stated after losing two key players to injuries last week, “Whoever made this international calendar has lost all reference to what top-level football is.”

Cramming three games into an international window normally reserved for two was asking for trouble. And it came in spades.

Most of the media understandably focused on the big stories: Luis Suárez contracted coronavirus in Uruguay, for example, while Sergio Ramos was injured leaving for Spain.

Of greater importance, however, was the fact that Norway had to lose a game due to a Covid-19 outbreak within their squad, and then line up one ‘B team’ for another. Furthermore, the entire Ukrainian team was quarantined in Lucerne after three members of their group for a match against Switzerland tested positive.

Meanwhile, the already injured Aleksandar Kolarov has just returned to Inter with coronavirus, illustrating the double risk posed by the international window.

The Serbian is the ninth member of the Nerazzurri squad to be sidelined by the virus since the start of the season, offering an unequivocal answer to CEO Beppe Marotta’s question about whether it was really prudent to allow players to join their teams. national. absolutely.

The net result is that several high-level games in Europe this weekend will take place without even more elite players, who ended up in the treatment room or in isolation.

Liverpool, for example, will be without Mohamed Salah, Joe Gomez, Trent-Alexander Arnold or Virgil van Dijk for Sunday’s clash with Premier League leaders Leicester, and could also be deprived of the services of Jordan Henderson, Fabinho and Thiago Alcantara.

The Reds have been hit harder than most by the coronavirus, fatigue and the normal rigors of a top flight campaign, but all will suffer this season. Therefore, a general dilution of quality is absolutely inevitable at all levels.

Forget the idea, but games like Ireland-Bulgaria could become the norm, in the Premier League, the Champions League or even the European Championship, and the game’s star men are likely to be emotionally and physically drained by next summer.

Players are already being pushed to the limit. There has been a notable increase in muscle injuries this season – the predictable result of a shorter summer break, a truncated preseason, and the most congested roster the game has ever seen.

What is remarkable is that very little has been given, especially in England. The Premier League is globally known for its intensity and yet it felt compelled to ditch its planned winter break to ensure the season ends in time for Euro 2020, which was postponed until 2021 due to the pandemic.

The smaller clubs in the Premier League also voted against allowing five substitutes this season due to the understandable belief that it would benefit the larger clubs, with their deeper talent pools.

And that’s the point here: every organization takes care of itself. Nobody is aware of the players.

“It is clear that with these new invented competitions, we are simply puppets for both FIFA and UEFA,” said Germany and Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos. Bild.

“New competitions such as the Nations League or the expansion of the Club World Cup are designed to maximize profits and in doing so simply push players to new physical limits.”

The mental aspect cannot be overlooked either.

“It’s not easy at all,” Aston Villa midfielder Conor Hourihane told reporters ahead of Ireland’s draw with Bulgaria. “This pandemic has affected many people.

“We are all concerned about the results, the performances and the goals and whatever, but listen, I have had a family problem with Covid, someone passed away. This is not an easy time for players.

“People will not know what is happening in the lives of the players. We all want to win games, but sometimes there are more important things in life. This pandemic is definitely bigger than a couple of goals and a couple of outcomes. “

Of course, the larger question here is whether we should continue to play soccer. But obviously there are significant financial factors at play here.

Clubs risk bankruptcy without entry receipts; Losing money from television would also be a potentially fatal blow.

Soccer federations have the same fears; many simply could not have done it without the revenue generated by the latest round of international matches.

“That’s why England made a joke out of a friendly against the Republic of Ireland (last week),” Jamie Carragher noted in Sky sports earlier this week. “It was because of the financial situation in the FA, so they played that game, which was silly.

“What this season has told us, through the debate on the nullity of the league, ‘Project Big Picture’, the rule of the five substitutes and international football, is that everyone takes care of themselves and does what they are correct for them.

“So, all over the world, nobody has given up anything in football this season and the players are being treated like a piece of meat.”

It is impossible not to agree. For football to continue, it must do so with caution and intelligence.

Nobody wants tournaments canceled or jobs lost. Even FIFPro, the players’ union, has stated that it “strongly supports the soccer industry’s efforts to continue playing despite the unpredictable and ever-changing nature of the pandemic.”

However, he also argued that “the current intense match schedule, with hardly any in-season and out-of-season breaks for the players, not only puts their health at risk, but also threatens to undermine their performance at the next European Championship. UEFA and the Qatar FIFA World Cup in 2022. “

It is in everyone’s interest that football survive this brutal period. But today, there are too many tournaments. There are too many games. Something has to give. Something has to be sacrificed.

Unfortunately, it seems that it will be the physical and mental well-being of the players.

source: – fcnaija