Hey Uefa, leave our kids alone…

By Walter Broeckx

I think every person  who follows football and who as a normal brain function will agree that the calender for football players is overfilled. Too much is too much. If you look at how many players have suffered injuries that have played on the world cup it is clear to see. The more players have to play and the longer the season lasts, the more injuries they will get. The less space there is between such tournaments and the league calender the more injuries they will suffer.

If Uefa or Fifa is serious about protecting the game they should be protecting the most valuable asset in the game: the players! People want to see the superstars play. They want to see Messi, Ronaldo, Özil, Hazard, Aguero,…. in action on the field. They don’t want to hear that they are injured for months.

If you look at the calender it is obvious that top players don’t get enough rest during the season and between seasons. In fact in years with a world cup there is no rest at all for a lot of them. While the world cup is still running the league in some countries is almost starting again.  We had a lot of players just back in training when our official matches started.

So players have to be rushed back and as a result will get more injuries. And I haven’t event mentioned the risk of getting injured when playing for their national teams.

Untold Arsenal goes mad whenever we get another set of meaningless friendlies between countries that can only need to overloading players and getting them injured.  So we have campaigned and it seems that from 2018 there will be no more meaningless friendlies.

So hurray?? Another moment where Untold campaigning resulted in the football authorities taking notice and doing something? Will the overload for players come to an end? Will the clubs be able to give their players more rest. Will Theo no longer come back injured when being called up for England matches after having been out for 10 months? Not so fast.

We are talking about institutions like Uefa and Fifa here.

Uefa has just made it public that from 2018 they meaningless friendlies will be …replaced by something else.

And that something else will be called the Nations League. A competition in which the 54 countries will be divided in to 4 divisions. And will play 6 matches between September till November 2018. And they can win extra tickets for world cups and European championship.

The 12 top teams from Europe will be in Division A, which will be divided into 4 groups with each 3 teams. And the 4 groupwinners will play a final phase in June 2019 with semi finals and a final.  And the worst teams in the divisions will go down and the better teams from the lower division can make promotion.

So yeah what a joke. The summer of 2019 in which nothing was planned till now …will now be the moment we play another competition. Talking about reducing the workload for the top players….

And as we know that the FA’s are inventive now we will get the fact that before the teams have to play in that competition they will have to play…..meaningless friendlies. Because well how else can you prepare a team of course.

So we still will have meaningless friendlies. And maybe after all the workload will go even up for the players of the big teams and big countries.

Mr. Platini said: ‘This is a very important decision for the international football matches”. In other words: this is a very important day for Uefa to grab some more money on the expense of the clubs and the players.

So the name will change but the workload for players will not change for the good of their health. No, as the matches will be meaning-something we will even risk more injuries as managers will want to win and so they will play players that maybe shouldn’t play because they carry a knock. And at the end of the day they might be send back to their clubs completely injured.

Thus from 2018 on we will have no more real summer rest for some players. Every year they will have to play till somewhere in June or July. If not for the world cup, then for the European championship or for the new Nations League. And get not enough rest. And become more injured. But what do Uefa or Fifa care about that?

It’s the money they are after. They don’t care about clubs suffering from injured players. As long as they can grab their part of the money. That is all what matters form them.

In a way this reminded me of the Pink Floyd hit ‘another brick in the wall’. Where they shout at one moment: Hey teacher, leave those kids alone.



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24 Replies to “Hey Uefa, leave our kids alone…”

  1. As you say Walter,this Nations League is just another way for UEFA to garner some funds.
    I wonder what mainland Europe think about it.
    As far as England is concerned, the answer would be to treat the new competition like Arsenal regard the League Cup, i.e. a chance to introduce second stringers to the “big time”.

  2. The strain put on players is immense.

    Football is a dynamic game with lots of physical contact. It is a massive strain on the body.

    I find it amazing when laymen, let alone ex professionals, dismiss the question of player tiredness, and the resulting problems with injuries, out of hand, with accusations of them being soft.

    It’s a fact that rest and recovery is essential.

    It’s a fact that sportsmen/women, especially the elite, need to manage there activities on a daily, weekly, monthly, even yearly basis.

    Elite track and field athletes manage there bodies to peak once every 2, possibly even 4 years.

    As I horse racing fan I find comparisons between how they are managed compared to humans/footballers, very interesting.

    Your bog standard race horse can be run about once a month. Sometimes even more. But there is no way they run at there best every day. They have natural peaks and troughs through a season, but one things for sure, they CANNOT run 2 or 3 times a week without suffering form and injury. They cannot run all year round without a period of months for the body to recoup.

    Then you come to the ELITE racehorses. Some of these will be run just 4 or 5 times a year with the aim of perhaps just ONE peak performance.

    They will as a rule be rested for 6 months of the year.

    It is also a fact that the more thorough the bread, the more prone to injury. These animals are bread, trained, ran, and stretched, to the absolute limit, and you know what, sometimes, many times, they break.

    Race horses and footballers are both athletes. They both have physiological and emotional limitations.

    An elite race horse would NEVER be put through the kind of physical regime that elite footballers are, for the simple reason there bodies would not cope. The horse would be ruined.

    And yet people, the powers that be, and worse, ex players, seem to think you can ‘run’ a footballer 2 times a week, 52 weeks a year without them being ruined.

    It beggars belief.

  3. Have to admit, I stopped reading here:

    Uefa has just made it public that from 2018 they meaningless friendlies will be …replaced by something else.

    And that something else will be called the Nations League. A competition in which the 54 countries will be divided in to 4 divisions. And will play 6 matches between September till November 2018. And they can win extra tickets for world cups and European championship.

  4. Good article Walter.
    What if we looked at this as we might in any other industry, an airline pilot may fly only so many hours in a given period, then he’s stood down for safety reasons. The same applies to numerous other professions.
    The EU stipulates that no worker may work more than 48 hours per week as a matter of course. These rules maintain public safety, help prevent exploitation and increase employment opportunities.
    What if in football, a player could only be allowed play X number of games per year, by law? Clubs would have to manage their valuable assets carefully. A similar limit could be placed on International appearances, forcing managers there to ration the times they call upon the star players.
    It might mean that for example, someone like Theo would be allowed a max of say 38 games for Arsenal and perhaps 4 games for England in a given season. That should be a manageable workload for can elite athlete.
    Any number of finer details about the number of times a player may play more than once a week could be added as necessary.
    Can’t see it happening soon nor being too popular with the vested interests but if anybody is serious about player safety it could be the way to go?

  5. Great article Walter!!

    Jamburg @ 11:43 states exactly how it is with track and field athletes (as I was one once many many many years ago), my coach was very firm about ACTIVE REST and healthy periods away from my particular event (100/200 meters). Jamburg is also spot with regard to horses, as I can relate to his comments with my other bobbie (dogs). WE HAVE TO rest them and their workload in training as well as manage their peak periods in time of competition…REST IS ESSENTIAL – failure to do so results in BURN OUTS and injuries!!

    Fact is though that UEFA, FA etc… have it quite easy in USING someone else’s investment (the players) without paying for their services a single penny, all the while racking in the cash. Without these players would have no ‘tools’ to carry out these ‘wonderful’ ideas.

    As clubs are owners of these EXPENSIVE (not only to purchase but to maintain) players, UEFA should be charged by the clubs for the periods they are utilized by UEFA for their own purposes!!! The fees should be equal to the value of the player and his salary!!!


  6. If UEFA ends up using a clubs player for 4 months in Total every year, they would need to pay a third of the players purchase price, plus a third of his salary and insurance cover. They (UEFA) may think twice about that!!!

    But if they did PAY, then the club could go out and get another player!!!

  7. apo Armani

    Thanks for your support. I myself am only a laymen, but I would like to think not a stupid one.

    I think what I said would be pretty obvious to most people, which makes the behaviour and attitudes of the likes of UEFA, and the disrespectful accusations of ‘softies’ by ex pros, even more mind boggling.

    I like what you suggest about ‘charging’ these bodies that do, in effect ‘hire out’ these expensive commodities.

    Perhaps if people think a ‘fine’ is perhaps a bit much, how about a deposit, repayable on the return of the player in full working order.

    I think it would help in making them focus on the ‘duty of care’ they have to the players.

    I’m quite sure more of a fuss would of been made regarding the ridiculous foul that put Jack out in September if it cost them £50,000 for example.

    I know it’s a bit of a pipe dream but something needs to be done.

  8. Too much of football is detrimental is not good as the fans will loose interest and so will the players. its just as cash cow for the authorities. It happened in India, cricket was overplayed, with test matches, that died, so to save it 1 day game was introduced, too much of that and people got fed up.now its the 20 20. Same thing will happen with football.

  9. Forget dogs or horses, even truck drivers have to take compulsory rest after a certain time on the road.

  10. gouresh

    A good point.

    There’s and old saying about a Goose and a Golden egg that springs to mind.

  11. Jamburg, Thanks in return for your support.

    There is no other way that clubs can be covered…and if UEFA has to pay; then I bet they won’t use/select the same expensive players in every single tournament/game, hence giving the player REST!!!

    If clubs and player, on the other hand, put up with this, then they have to blame only themselves!!

  12. gouresh

    The job I do is totally embroiled in ‘Rules’ regarding

    -Maximum shift lengths,

    -Maximum consecutive days you can work.

    -A ‘fatigue’ index that dictates the type and amount of work done over a set period.

    -Compulsory lengths of time off between shifts.

    There is more, much more, and it is all to do with managing a persons Mental and physical wellbeing, so he/she can do his job to the best of his/her ability, Safely, properly and healthily.

    Footballers, it seems, are just commodities to be used at will, with scant regard for there short or long term health and well being.

  13. Its not rocket science; many of these players clock up some 800kms only from game time, add to that training sessions, one can be close to 1,500kms annually. Of course thats not at jogging or walking pace…much of it is explosive acceleration with twists and turns as well as jumping, and finally the never ending kicking and barging that goes on!!!

    That is an incredible amount of work-load!!!

  14. @Mandy Dodd
    December 5, 2014 at 1:19 pm

    Ok I think we need to go out in full body armor if we are to escape injury…the minimum maybe could be and American football body kit!!!

    PGMOL in its full glory!!!

    PGMOL knows that Manure could easy drop points this weekend, as could a number of others around us…they will make sure we get no advantage!!

  15. It’s hard to believe anyone who has any football experience- hello, Platini- could think this isn’t a terrible idea.

    There’s only one group of footballers who noticeably go too long without games at times in the season,in England at least, and that is those in the 18 -20 age group who cannot break into their first team. Below 18 there is plenty of football, once no longer eligible for u18’s there is not quite enough football in a year and they seem to play about once every three weeks.

    So, unless the plan is for each nation to send those players, it’s a phenomenally bad idea.

    Some national managers, however, would probably love the chance for more involvement throughout the year, but only if they are too obtuse or plain thick to understand the effects extra games will have on already overworked top players.

    A suit with no connection to the game at least has some excuse for getting things so wrong. Platini?

  16. I think I have read of Sepp Blatter saying at a World Cup tournament that: footballers are tired as a result of having just finished playing for their clubs during the football season. And this has accounted for the general low level quality performances by the participating teams at that World Cup. But Fifa have ever since slept over the issue of players tiredness. And are even proposing to stage a 54 Nations League to further agreviate the tiredness of players. Let me propose a rule of a maximum of 50 games/season be set by Fifa for a player to play-in in a league and for country and no more. And Fifa should reschedule the World Cup to be staging in Jan/Feb. Instead of the Jun/Jul format. The football clubs should take a 6 six weeks recess for the tournament to hold. A quality football performance could be displayed at the football feaster. Let me come down to earth. The Gunners must pounce on the Potters at the Britannia tomorrow afternoon and break them to pieces. The last season’s fixture of this game saw the Gunners getting disarmed by the potters. As a consequence of which the Gunners were unable to continue with the fight to conquer the land of the fighters. Instead, it was the Citizens that finally conquered the land. Since the Britannia has become the gateway for conquering the land of the fighters, it has become paramount for the Gunners to pass through this gateway of the Potters to have a chance of conquering the land of the fighters.

  17. Another clause to use of players could be that a player must not have exceed ‘X’ amount of playing time for club!!! Then it would open the door to players in clubs who did not get game time!

  18. Mandy Dodd

    If Riley were interested in maximum chance of justice prevailing and player safety you’d think he’d send his strongest and highest-ranking refs for the fixture given the unique volatility of it.

    Think last year we had Micheal Jones, he of the disastrous performance at Southampton- City last weekend, year before that it was Mason. He is not sending his strongest or highest ranking refs. Little memory of Peter Walton but I’m not sure he was a strong one either.

    Mind you, would we be a lot better off with one of the high-ranking or, sometimes , strong officials? Probably not.

  19. Rich, sadly, though there are undoubtedly strong, fair, honest refs out there, they seem to be under orders from those who have anything but such qualities.
    Not sure who I would want refereeing this game, maybe, for all his faults thie likes of Webb back in his day, maybe Moss or Clattenberg, but anyone….absolutely anyone other than Anthony Taylor.
    I fear for these players on Sat, the media are clearly winding up Stoke already.
    Someone like Sanchez will have a go back if not maimed to the extent of the knight in the Monty Python Holy Grail film, he will see red at the least excuse if he does.

  20. Mandy Dodd

    I’ve had my doubts about each for various things, but Clattenberg and Webb would definitely have been my picks.

    Taylor is, as you say, a very worrying choice. Strangely, first time I ever saw him I was quite impressed. Happened to have a good game and I thought just maybe someone new with a fresh perspective had arrived on the scene. It’s been a long sharp plummet since then.

    Interesting you pick Moss- about whom I can only recall the Palace game at the start of the year and his wretched leniency for time-wasting- he’s done Utd Stoke (sad, but I had a check on a hunch Riley would send the big dogs for that one) twice in the last couple of years.

    The system really is garbage. I’ve happened to see one ref have two or three outstanding games- was particularly good at ignoring pressures being put on by home crowds and players alike- in champ and league One in last year or so. Looks like a healthy version of Dougie Freedman and, watching him, my thoughts were ‘you probably won’t go further,mate. Or only if you give them what they look for instead of doing what you think is correct’

    If it really does all lie with Riley to choose who gets what fixtures, his power is tremendous/terrifying, given that all refs apparently are motivated by the chance to get the top fixtures, and need to do so to stand a chance of getting on international/c league roster.

    So he makes and breaks them, and can very easily exert pressure and guide what type of ref they become, over time, by rewarding them for what he approves of and penalizing them for what he doesn’t. Worse- though I know nothing of this aspect of the system- he may well be responsible for bringing them into the top group in the first place.

    Area that intrigues me most is who grades the refs for each game. It’s a vital part of the system, as one terrible grade can hit their average hard enough o rule them out of the showcase occasions (only those with the highest scores are in contention). So, supposing we are right that refs often have stinkers against us, those judging them generally have to disagree with our assessment, otherwise it would threaten the chances of the refs involved meeting their ambitions.

    A way around that might just be to send your refs with no chance of getting the cup finals or onto Uefa’s list for the stoke arsenal game

  21. Players tired? No such thing. The men who run FIFA, FA, UEFA and most of football are tirelessly growing their bank accounts on the forced labour of professional footballers. There is no Health & Safety for footballers!! The clubs will attempt to maintain a level of sanity but the Associations don’t give a toss. They only care for the income that bloats their bank accounts.

    The greedy bastards that run FIFA, UEFA & The FA. Please don’t wait to hear about Blatter stress counting his ill gotten gains. He will die obscenely wealthy.

  22. Rich, on the surface at least, the refs are selected by Keren Barratt, but I would rather not think about who sits at the top of that chain.But as you say, Rileys power is very very worrying, and there are so few ref to officiate in this league.
    Agree on Moss vs Palace, but over time, he has been one of our better refs.
    This Sat, our players will be superior as players and a team, but they face not only Bet365 Stoke, (yes, unbelievably they are owned by the family who own that betting outfit) but the PGMOL as well. I wish them well and hope they come out unscathed, but that is highly unlikely in the circumstances.

  23. This is nuts. Are the football admins jealous of the players’ earnings? Blame the oilers. Then FFP is pointless. At least, treat footballers like any other employees, the right to decide whether to play or not.

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