The Real Madrid great has admitted that he struggled with existing calendar when he was a player
Roberto Carlos is the latest big name to wade into the debate over the need to change the football calendar – the Real Madrid legend claiming reform is necessary to protect player welfare.
The former Brazil international says the current schedule – in which international players are expected to leave their clubs multiple times a season to play for their countries – leads to an inevitable drop in performance.
Despite playing at the very top level of the game, winning World Cup and Champions League titles, Carlos has admitted he struggled with fixture congestion and the travel between games during his career.
“I remember when I used to play, we would have a game on a Sunday, then we would travel on that Sunday evening, we would play again on Wednesday, get back on Friday and play on Saturday or Sunday,” he told FIFA.
“The players’ performance starts to drop automatically as you don’t have any time to rest. As for the travel: I’d leave Madrid, for example, and travel to São Paulo, Buenos Aires or Caracas in Venezuela and wouldn’t have any recovery time.
“This idea reduces the number of trips as you would have the qualifying stages done in one month. So, you would have the time to train, play well, rest and get back to your club. There are too many consecutive matches and then you add the travel and the fatigue and it’s very complex. I think that football will improve a lot once this problem gets sorted.”
Carlos is one of the players called on to give feedback on the current football calendar through a Technical Advisory Group with FIFA World Cup, which will look at possible changes.
Arsene Wenger has already been looking into a plan which would see fewer international breaks but increase the number of World Cups and major continental tournaments, meaning World Cups and Euros could take place in alternate summers.
Despite the idea being an unpopular one with many in European football, who, amongst other things, have expressed concerns about what it might mean for player burnout, FIFA is of the belief it is something which is very much wanted from outside of UEFA.
Along with Carlos, Geremi, the former Cameroon international, has also highlighted the need for football to make a change.
“Most African players play for European clubs,” Geremi said. “So, when they participate in international competitions they have to travel from Europe to Africa. I can tell you that it’s very tiring. When you travel from Europe in winter, it’s 40 degrees in Africa. There’s a contrast there and, naturally, that has an impact in terms of performance, because you are not at 100 per cent.
“It also has an impact in terms of your sporting career because it reduces the number of years that you can play in the national team,” he added. “It’s not easy at all for an African footballer – or an Asian, South American or American footballer – to play in Europe at club level and play for their country too. So, it’s important that we find a solution to avoid putting players and their health at risk.”
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