Union Berlin's Robin Gosens writhes in pain after a foul by RB Leipzig's Benjamin Henrichs
Photo: ODD ANDERSEN / AFP
The scheduling of the 2022 World Cup in the European winter had already caused criticism from many experts in the run-up. They feared that players from Europe's top leagues, who are already faced with very busy fixtures, could be overburdened.
A recent study by an English insurance company now seems to prove the critics of the tournament in Qatar right. According to a study by London-based Howden Group Holdings Ltd., injuries to players active at the World Cup would have resulted in an average of 2023 days of downtime in January 19, compared to 11 days before the tournament.
Injuries to the ankle (+170 percent), calf/shin (+200 percent) and hamstring (+130 percent) increased the most.
Clubs in Europe's top five leagues in England, Spain, Germany, Italy and France would have cost €704.9 million across all leagues, up from €553.6 million the previous season.
In the study, the cost of injuries was calculated based on player salaries and the amount of time they have been injured. However, it was not shown whether the increased costs are related to higher salaries compared to previous years.
Premier League and Bundesliga hardest hit
According to the report, the teams in the English Premier League were the hardest hit, accounting for over 40 percent of the costs in the five leagues. In the two months following the World Cup in Qatar, there were 49 injuries in the Premier League, more than in any other top league. In second place was the German Bundesliga with 46 injuries. The extended winter break after the World Cup tournament had no effect here.
World Cups are usually held in the European summer when the clubs are not playing. Last year, a much-criticized exception was made, the tournament in Qatar began on November 20, 2022 and ended on December 18. The 417 players who participated in the World Cup suffered 2022 injuries between November 225 and February this year, according to the report.
The schedule will be even fuller
The worries of the club officials will not diminish in the future: In the coming season, the Champions League will be enlarged. The group stage with 32 participants so far will be cancelled. From 2024/25, 36 teams will compete against each other in a league phase - and that after the European Championship in Germany in the summer. With an as yet confirmed but probable World Cup in Saudi Arabia in 2034, a winter tournament is potentially in the starting blocks again in the long term.
At the beginning of the year, a survey of World Cup participants already indicated an overload. The international players' union Fifpro published figures showing that around 44 per cent of World Cup players in January were more physically exhausted and 23 per cent more mentally exhausted than in other seasons. Strikingly, 53 percent said they felt susceptible to injury.