Celtic captain Callum McGregor used as example in concerning FIFPRO study

By John McGinley

May 28, 2022

Celtic captain Callum McGregor has been named in a FIFPRO study looking into the increasingly heavy workload footballers have to go through each year.

FIFPRO, the global union for professional football players, looked at three seasons, 2018/19 through 2020/21.

Data compiled from the FIFPRO Player Workload Monitoring, a public platform created with Football Benchmark, highlights the load on individual footballers as an expanded UEFA Champions League from 2024 is set to further increase pressure on players.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

They also conducted a survey with players, coaches and sports science experts to determine what the current feelings are amongst professionals in the game.

In a press release, the union said: “FIFPRO survey results released today show professional footballers are clearly in favour of new regulations to address the increasing match congestion and travel burden at the top of the game.

“The survey of 1,055 players and 92 performance experts shows both groups support new measures that would guarantee a minimum-length offseason break and limit repeated back-to-back games. Only 26 per cent of players want to maintain international windows as they are.

“Meanwhile, 82 per cent of the performance experts, half of whom have national team experience, said they have witnessed overload causing players mental health and lifestyle issues.”

Callum McGregor efforts stand out in global context

McGregor is named in the section looking at players who played more than 55 games in a season during the studied timeframe, for club and country.

The Celtic midfielder didn’t just go beyond that threshold once but in all three years.

He was one of only 13 players in the sample who played more than 55 times in all of the seasons under the microscope alongside big names such as Roberto Firmino, Marcus Rashford and Andrew Robertson.

It’s long been known McGregor is something of an iron man for Celtic. This has been lauded by supporters and rightly so, it’s an achievement to be so consistent and successful.

However, it seems that FIFPRO does not think contributions like his are feasible long-term across football as more and more matches are added to the calendar.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

The union also expressed concern about players having to travel excessively to tournaments while not getting the ‘minimum’ four weeks summer rest.

Celtic thankfully do not have qualifiers to consider this summer, so the tight window from post-season to pre-season is relaxed a bit for McGregor and his teammates. But he is set to be heavily involved in upcoming internationals.

UEFA and FIFA would do well to listen to the concerns, while organisations such as the SPFL may be seriously thinking about whether a League Cup is still feasible in this environment.

McGregor, as always, will continue to give everything for Celtic and Scotland.

In other news, Liel Abada’s 2am phone call to Celtic teammate.