The congested Christmas fixture list is here again. It’s nothing new, perhaps. It happens every year, and every year the coaches and players voice their concerns about the lack of recovery time, increased risk of injury, and performances that suffer.
This time around, though, there’s the added complication of the latest surging wave of Covid as the Omicron variant sweeps through England as it’s sweeping through much of the world. And there’s no sign those in charge intend to do anything about it.
“I am concerned that nobody really takes player welfare seriously,” was Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson’s take on the situation. “Of course we want to play, but I am worried about player welfare and I don’t think anybody does take that seriously.
“Football to us is everything and we want to be able to perform at the highest level. And unfortunately in this period it is difficult to do that. That has been like this for a few years but then you chuck in Covid and it becomes even harder and even worse.”
Earlier in the week, teams met to discuss postponing one of the two post-Christmas match rounds to later in the year to ease the congestion and help clubs struggling with players missing due to Covid but the decision was made to plow ahead regardless.
Meanwhile, FIFA are seeking to double the number of World Cups, the powers that be in the sport continually seeking to expand, chasing profit and a future where every week and month has a fixture calendar as congested as England’s holiday period.
“We will try to have conversations in the background and try to have some sort of influence going forward,” Henderson added of the growing need for players to form a more collective and unified front to better defend their interests—and their health.
“At the minute I don’t feel the players get the respect they deserve in terms of having somebody being able to speak for them independently and having the power to say actually this isn’t right for player welfare.”