Compressed calendars, football will explode
And we with him.
As a child, who hasn’t dreamed of sitting in front of the television and watching endless football? Play every day, 24/7, in an endless loop. But the childhood dream soon turned into a dystopian nightmare, and our torpor is only awakened from time to time by the national break. In other words: Football has become bulimic, the fans know it, but cannot offer the proper resistance, while the voices of discontent among the professionals are increasing day by day.
Maurizio Sarri, one of the line’s most loyal soldiers, It has been confirmed To republic a few days ago: “Nowadays we only train via video. How many games should a soccer player play in a year? At most 50. I’ve been talking about this for five years, but I’m still accused of looking for alibis and that’s it. These days the world, as they call it, is collapsing in Spain because of Gavi’s injury UEFA virus“.
Sarri exposed the contradictions of the football system. From calendars that are too full to unnecessary competitions that are simply the cause of the calendars. We challenge anyone outside a European stadium to ask who won the last Nations League or – a question for strong hearts – to have the competition explained to them for themselves. Just the latest innovation from UEFA (along with the Conference League, founded two years ago), which has therefore decided to now continue milking a cow without milk.
There are even those who propose that the World Cup (from 2026 with 48 teams) be held every two years. Without understanding that the charm The strength of these competitions lies precisely with them sporadically.
A game of massacre where only the spectacle between tired players and injured champions loses. In an increasingly horse-focused football where physical performance is paramount, rest and training should be fundamental. Instead, we find ourselves at the peak of the season as physically and mentally exhausted footballers, worn out by the biblical games and away trips. Is it perhaps a coincidence that the last Champions League final was rather lackluster?
How will football develop with these rhythms? How much will they be able to hold? Muscles of people over 30 years old the future?
Or will it increasingly be turbo football? An eternal washing machine, with a constant change of protagonists: a champion appears, he is squeezed for a few years and then the next one moves on. The responsibility obviously lies primarily with UEFA and FIFA, but as Ceferin said some time ago: “Nobody gives up on anything.” The players, managers and coaches are complicit, which eat us up with TV rights. We football bulimics are complicit, we who celebrated Pedri as a hero after 73 games without being aware of the other side of the coin.
But in the sea of acceptance, some choirs of dissent are rising. To those who, out of populist impulses, accuse the players of being paid too much for their stakes, Van Dijk answers: “I am willing to earn less for my health“. While from the benches behind Sarri Mourinho, Ancelotti, Guardiola and especially Klopp, who was perhaps one of the first to raise the issue over four years ago, have spoken out on the subject on several occasions: “We are in a situation where no one can imagine living without football and yet it has never happened. We play continuously, but to ensure adequate performance we need to allow real breaks and reduce the current tempo.”
Tennis player Alexander Zverev had already explained a problem that does not only affect football in 2018: “We play eleven months a year and it’s ridiculous.”. While the topic is also very current in the world of motorsport, where Red Bull team boss Christian Horner he explained recently: “As it stands, the Formula 1 calendar is brutal and unsustainable“.
The model is obviously the NBA with 90 or more games per season, in a worldview that interprets sport as a machine in perpetual motion (= The show must go on).
But interest is lost and the sport runs the risk of taking a subordinate place in the sea of attractions and activities. The value of the national team has been lost and serves as a role model. Check them out first Blue It was an event, now it happens too often. The result? Nobody cares about Italy, fans and players anymore. And when even journalists, the supposed guardians of sports and entertainment, turn away and each throw grist for their own mill, that means the problem may be structural.
The Guardian A few days ago he examined this new “era of excess” in sports, with ever-larger tournaments and ever-longer games. Columnist Sean Ingle surveyed experts, commentators and economists with the question: “Is big always better?“. Some alarming prospects emerged:
“Sport should be there Unpredictability and danger. But the recent EM 2024 qualifiers in Germany had little of that. And while the Men’s Cricket World Cup delivered some extraordinary upsets, the extended group stage has dramatically reduced the value of such victories.”
Marketing expert Beall then states: “All sports need to be aware of oversaturation: the Ryder Cup, the Olympics and Lions Rugby owe their status to the exceptional nature of the event, which attracts huge fan interest at crucial moments.” And the article then ends with a prophetic: “You raise the goose that lays golden eggs, but then you risk killing it!”.
In the meantime, the Gavi case seems to have made a difference. There FIFPro, The World Footballers Unionhe said: “Last season Vinicius played nine competitions and Pedri, 20 years old, played more than 12,000 minutes, 25 percent more than Xavi at the same age. Players must have a mandatory minimum off-season rest period of 28 days and an in-season rest period of 14 days. On the other hand, footballers must have at least one day off per week. And thirdly, guidelines must be introduced in football to limit the number of consecutive games.”
In the meantime, another European Cup round awaits us, then full throttle until March, including the weekends before Christmas and New Year, after the national break and on until May, finally partly in Germany for the European Championships, partly in the USA for the Copa America. In between there is the Africa Cup, the Asian Cup and the various national and international cups. But what is left of it at the end? Lots and lots of games, but how many should you remember? The enthusiasts get tired before the athletes. It’s already happening.