"Some serious conversations need to take place"; Celtic legend hits out at UEFA

By John McGinley

June 19, 2022

Celtic legend Kenny Dalglish has criticised UEFA and FIFA for trying to cram too many matches into the football calendar year on year.

The June international break was a lengthy one with most countries playing four fixtures at the end of an already gruelling season for most professionals.

It’s often an issue for Celtic with key players such as Callum McGregor playing consistently from European qualifiers in July one year, right through to international matches in June the next.

Dalglish thinks conversations now need to be had regarding player welfare.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

He stated in his Sunday Post column: “For them to have still been playing games well into June doesn’t sit right with me. UEFA needs to show more compassion towards the players, and have their welfare uppermost in their thoughts.

“Every top footballer is dedicated to their profession. But they are also human, and it was easy to see some of them needed a break when they were playing for their countries last week.

“The international fixture calendar needs to be looked at, and some serious conversations need to take place. Let’s remember that playing for your country should be a highlight and treasured. But the calendar can’t be piled up by UEFA and FIFA trying to fit in too many fixtures.

“I mean, some players have just finished playing for their countries – and their club sides have already started back for pre-season! That’s a really strange situation.”

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A few weeks ago we published an article looking at this very issue after looking into a FIFPRO report and survey amongst current elite professionals.

The players union determined: “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.”

Photo by Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images

McGregor was actually cited in that report as someone who has been put through the heaviest workload in the world over the last few years, though the player himself doesn’t think it’s an issue for him.

McGregor is best placed to come to that determination of course, but I do think Dalglish has a point.

I do think football authorities have to take player fitness and welfare into account because more games are being played than ever before and it doesn’t seem to stop. It can’t be sustainable in the long-term.

In other news, Report: Celtic ask Danish club for valuation of 13-goal striker.