It was reported on Thursday by the global union FIFPRO that most players from last year’s World Cup do not wish to see the tournament repeated during November and December. According to FIFPRO, a survey highlighted players’ concerns about the physical and mental fatigue they experienced in January due to the World Cup being held during the middle of the European club season.
Raphael Varane’s decision to end his national team career at 29 was a warning sign, according to FIFPRO general secretary Jonas Baer-Hoffmann.”There is a strong possibility that he won’t be the last one if we continue this path,” Baer-Hoffmann concluded, referring to football’s increasingly crowded schedule with ongoing competitions adding more teams and games to existing ones.
During the World Cup Qatar, the union asked players when they would prefer future editions to take place. Only 11% indicated November-December, while 64% indicated June-July as their preferred timeframe. One out of four respondents did not have a preference. “Interestingly, none of the players surveyed who had participated in previous World Cup tournaments supported the winter scheduling,” the union’s research document stated. Due to the oppressive desert heat in June and July, FIFA relocated the World Cup dates to Qatar in 2015. Clubs and leagues in European countries opposed this move as they did not wish to lose lucrative weekend playing slots.
FIFPRO reported that 20% of World Cup players who responded said they “felt extremely high levels of mental and emotional fatigue” in January, compared with an average season. A total of 44% of the 64 players who responded reported “extreme or increased physical fatigue” in January, according to FIFPRO.
Despite the late start to the World Cup in Qatar, FIFA was enthusiastic about players arriving fresh for a mid-season tournament. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is also expected to lead a bid to host the tournament in 2030 or 2034. This is likely to occur during the year’s cooler months in Europe. As for this season’s schedule, Baer-Hoffmann stated, “Repeating what we did in Qatar is unacceptable and should not be a viable option.”