🔴 EOTK Insider Opinion: If UEFA and FIFA want nonstop football - they should build the robots necessary for it 🤖
Football is increasingly being taken away from the fans and now the players are losing out too.
Injuries happening on international duty have bizarrely become an accepted part of the deal that’s already balanced in favour of the international governing bodies.
Even inconveniences like, to take a Liverpool-related example, Brazilian internationals Fabinho and Alisson Becker being denied enough rest to take part in the Reds’ upcoming meeting with Watford this Saturday, have largely been shrugged off.
With Tite’s men playing against Uruguay a day before the Merseysiders face off against Claudio Ranieri’s Hornets at Vicarage Road, it’s frankly impossible for the pair to be available in time.
“Although all the title-contending clubs are affected to some extent, the integrity of the matchday has been undermined due to avoidable, external circumstances,” Jamie Carragher wrote on the matter for The Telegraph. “It is inexcusable that Fifa has allowed World Cup qualifiers to be scheduled at such a time which means the clubs paying the players’ salaries - in some cases around £250,000 a week - cannot reasonably use them in an important domestic match.”
I digress, of course - ‘balance’ implies that the clubs and players involved received some kind of benefit, if even only partial.
Whilst many will rightly point out that the opportunity to play for one’s national side is an honour and that some international fixtures are even enjoyable to watch, the stark reality is that the few over the many are reaping the rewards.
We’re all aware of how far football has fallen from its working-class roots, but what exactly is the point of a sport that runs its athletes into the ground?
How can the sport be fully enjoyed by millions when our favourite stars are being sidelined with injury or, to cite the case of Liverpool’s Brazilian duo once more, made unavailable by virtue of horrific scheduling.
How exactly will more international fixtures - on top of what we’ve already got - help the situation?
After playing a starring role in one such additional tie, Real Madrid shotstopper Thibaut Courtois rightly protested the gruelling fixture schedule.
The former Chelsea No.1’s comments (also referenced by Carragher) were quite apt.
For we can only assume that the key decision-makers for FIFA and UFEA operate under the delusion that footballers are ‘robots’ and are built to withstand an insane degree of physical strain.
These are supremely fit athletes we’re talking about, don’t get us wrong, but even they have their breaking points - a notion Liverpool fans will be intimately familiar with when it comes to international breaks.
So where exactly is football headed?
In Arsene Wenger’s mind, a biannual World Cup seems to be the best step forward.
However, when it becomes starkly apparent to the highest-ranking officials within the sport that simply lumping more fixtures onto the schedule in the form of an extra World Cup isn’t sustainable, what will their solution be then?
Given the direction we’re headed, we can only presume that the globe’s governing bodies intend to take inspiration either from Courtois’ recent interview or from Nike’s ‘The Last Game’ advert and build indestructible robots or clones who are capable of handling an increasingly demanding schedule for our viewing pleasure.
We can see Wenger’s point, expressed in a prior interview with the Telegraph, about the need to shine a light on talents from nations lacking a high standard of footballing infrastructure.
However, surely this then highlights a need beyond simply talking to the players to work out what’s working for them and what’s not.
We must come again to the topic of grassroots football and question whether national and international bodies are doing enough to help uplift the lowest levels of the game and build clearer pathways to the peak of the football pyramid.
In short, the answer is no, and more regular World Cups (with the visibility offered by the tournament), as Carragher has argued, won’t necessarily provide a viable alternative in that regard.
At the moment, the only side to the debate that’s being actively considered by key decision-makers is of an economic nature - specifically one that would directly benefit FIFA and its sponsors.
The players’ needs, it seems, will warrant little more than an afterthought.
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