THE first winter World Cup cost Premier League clubs a whopping £255MILLION in “lost” wages.
Players were out for five extra days per injury on average once the top flight resumed on Boxing Day following the halt caused by the dash to the desert.
EPAPremier League clubs suffered injury woes after the Qatar World Cup[/caption]
The study by insurance group Howden shows the impact on Europe’s leading leagues of the Qatar tournament which caused a six-week disruption to the domestic calendar.
While Fifa’s insurance policy covered injuries sustained during the World Cup, issues sustained after the tournament were surveyed.
Back-to-back major tournaments at club and international level from this summer are likely to have an even bigger impact in coming years.
And it will only increase the pressure for Uefa and Fifa to think again about their seemingly endless expansion drive.
Pep Guardiola’s men had only 40 player absences across the campaign — 27 fewer than the previous season — which may have been a significant factor in their relentless late-season drive to the title as Arsenal paid the price for crucial injuries.
City also have a deeper squad, allowing more rotation without performances being impacted.
According to Howden’s European Football Injury Index, Premier League clubs were the worst hit in the two months after the tournament, with 49 players ruled out.
It suggests the sheer demands of the English top flight took its toll, with clubs in Germany’s Bundesliga — the closest league to England in terms of physicality — picking up 46 injuries despite an extended post-World Cup break.
After Euro 2024 and South America’s Copa America in June, the next two seasons will see the demands on players cranked up even further.
June 2025 sees the first edition of Fifa’s expanded 32-team Club World Cup in the USA.
Then 12 months later the United States, Canada and Mexico will host the first 48-nation World Cup, a tournament in which the winners play eight games.
The 2034 World Cup looks likely to be a winter tournament in Saudi Arabia and that is also going to have a knock-on effect regarding injuries for Premier League sides.
PFA chief executive Maheta Molongo has already warned that the growing amount of matches are asking infeasible demands of the game’s top stars.
He told SunSport: “It is mad, ridiculous. There should be a maximum number of games that any player can play to ensure a sufficient level of quality — and a minimum amount of rest each year.
“We believe no player should play more than 60 games a season. No human being should be expected to play any more games at the highest level and they also need a minimum three-week vacation every summer with no competition at all.”
Rodrigo Bentancur was among the Prem stars to suffer a long-term injuryRex