ROME (Reuters) - European clubs want mandatory rest periods inserted into the international calendar to give players more time to recover from games and train, the head of their association said on Tuesday.
“It is paramount to preserve and respect the main actors who are the players,” Andrea Agnelli, chairman the European Club Association (ECA), told reporters.
He said the ECA would press for “an overall reduction of games including mandatory rest periods”, for the next international calendar, starting in 2024.
“Preserving the game can only lead to enlarging the audience with the benefits this would bring for everyone,” added Agnelli, who is president of Serie A champions Juventus.
The international match calendar, which is drawn up by world soccer’s ruling body FIFA, co-ordinates fixtures around the globe, allocating dates for international matches and tournaments to avoid clashes with domestic competitions.
The current match calendar runs until 2024 and allows for eight to 10 internationals per year in addition to major tournaments such as the World Cup, European championship and Copa America.
Top players can easily play 60 to 70 games in a season for their clubs and national teams and Agnelli demanded that clubs be consulted before the next calendar is drafted.
“We clubs are the ones investing in the game, we are the ones running the risks on a daily basis both on and off the pitch, so we want to make sure our voice is properly heard when decisions are taken,” he said.
Agnelli explained that the rest periods would mean players could train, but would not play matches.
“Players are playing two or three times a week at club level and international level,” he said.
“We must take into consideration weeks when players can rest and train, and reduce the overall the number of games.”
Writing by Brian Homewood in Bern, editing by Ed Osmond