Players in today’s soccer have an off-field enemy—the rigorous schedule—in addition to the opposition they face on the pitch.

A troubling trend—an increase in injuries—has surfaced alongside the heated debates about the amount of games that soccer players participate in.

In light of the current pandemic of muscle injuries, it is necessary to investigate their origins. Some have argued that the players’ schedules are just too packed with local, European, and international games.

As a result, many in the soccer world are debating whether or not the beautiful game is putting excessive physical strain on its players.

What did Jules Kounde say?

Long gone are the days when soccer players could relax and get ready for each match on a more leisurely timetable.

The modern playing season is jam-packed with local leagues, cup games, continental tournaments, and international matches, leaving players with little time to relax.

With the current spike in injuries, it is understandable that players would be concerned about the physical toll this relentless schedule has on them. It has caused coaches and clubs a great deal of distress.

Jules Kounde of the French national team and Barcelona is one of the few stars to address this recently.

The 25-year-old has voiced his displeasure with the annual game schedule. According to him, one reason soccer players are more likely to sustain injuries is because of the high level of competition during games.

“There are too many games. The pace has become more and more intense, too many injuries. We’re going in a rhythm that’s becoming more and more dangerous. There are more and more serious injuries”.

“What bothers me is that when we make this observation, people say that we used to play so much… Even if that was true, it doesn’t mean it was good before!”, he said in an interview with CliqueTV, via Fabrizio Romano.

November international break takes its toll

A disturbing trend of an increase in injuries sustained by soccer players has recently gone unnoticed.

A growing number of injuries, including strained muscles, torn ligaments, and problems caused by exhaustion, are causing elite players to miss time and lowering team effectiveness.

Some feel that the high volume of games and the physical demands of playing them are major factors in the current injury crisis. Players have been hit hard by injuries this FIFA international break alone; Warren Zaire-Emery, Gavi, Vinicius, Rafael Leao, Marcus Rashford, and Mason Mount are just a few names.

Seemingly, FIFA, UEFA, or the clubs will continue to flog the players until they reach an agreement to earn less money. Another option is for the players to form a union and go on strike.

However, this also seems unlikely considering how unpredictable the industry is and how just a small fraction of players are making enough to retire comfortably.

We can’t turn a blind eye to the drain on soccer players’ bodies while the discussion about game duration continues. Achieving a fine balance between a jam-packed schedule and the well-being of players is essential for the sport’s future.

Photo credit: IMAGO / Pressinphoto