Football: Fixture congestion means players are far from their best, says PFA chief

Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane (left) has played 49 games for club and country this year, including the national team's run to the Euro 2020 final.
Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane (left) has played 49 games for club and country this year, including the national team's run to the Euro 2020 final.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (REUTERS) - Players are playing too many fixtures and are not performing at their best, the head of the English Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) said on Wednesday (Oct 6).

Former Brighton & Hove Albion striker Maheta Molango, who replaced Gordon Taylor as head of the PFA this year, spoke out after Fifa's review of the international match calendar and the world ruling body's calls for a biennial World Cup.

Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, Fifa's chief of global football development, repeated his support for the change from the established four-year cycle last month but has met with opposition from Uefa and domestic leagues across Europe.

Molango said players should be consulted first on any changes to the calendar.

"It's not about doing a calendar and seeing how the players fit in that, because I want my kids to see the best version of the players. It's why I fell in love with this game," Molango said at the Leaders Week sports conference.

"Right now I feel what my kids see on the TV is just a shadow of what they would expect if this person would be able to play a number of games that is sustainable.

"What we are seeing is different stakeholders having different interests, trying to protect their own business interests and the players somehow having to fit within that picture."

The congested calendar means a player like England captain and Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane has played 49 games for club and country this year, including the national team's run to the Euro 2020 final.

Barcelona midfielder Pedri played more than 60 games last season after competing for Spain at the European Championship and the Tokyo Olympics.

Global players' union FIFpro this year called for players to have a greater say in conditions in domestic leagues.

But Molango said it was in the interests of competition organisers to ensure players were well rested.

"It's not just a question of player welfare, because it is, but even those who only think about the business side of it you are damaging the product," the 39-year-old said.

"Quality means seeing the best version of the players who play against each other, because they create the show not the clubs."