Since the return of football after the first lockdown, things have been very different for the players. They are now expected to play within much tighter schedules, and this is beginning to result in a large increase in football-related injuries. Over the weekend Liverpool’s manager Jürgen Klopp claimed that next summer’s European Championship could be destroyed if a more compressed schedule is not created. He has urged for a change and has suggested this hectic schedule cannot continue, "hopefully we can play the Euros next summer but if we continue like this let’s see which players can be part of that”. Many players are now suffering from muscular injuries due to hectic schedule Klopp describes; they are also not getting enough rest and recovery time in between games which could lead to further health issues and have an impact on their mental well-being.
Covid-19 has had a significant impact on the football industry, firstly it brought it to a halt and now it is having to play catch up with players being expected to play more matches within a concentrated time. Recent research has been conducted by an artificial intelligence platform Zone7 exploring injury risk forecasting. It worked with 35 professional football teams worldwide. It showed that playing eight matches in a 30-day period increases the incidence of injury by 25% when compared with playing four to five matches in the same timeframe. Eight matches in 30 days may seem a regular occurrence but normally only 4% of players across a season are subjected to such a run of games.
More games and less recovery time are starting to take a toll on the players. In a recent article for The Athletic, Ali Humayun reports there have been 78 muscle injuries already this season for Premier League players, that is a 42% increase from this stage in the previous campaign. The article also suggests that “the number of muscle injuries suffered in the first five weeks of the season has skyrocketed this year, after a drastically reduced pre-season period and busier fixture schedule because of the impact of COVID-19”. This highlights the increased pressure on footballers, and with more games to come, more injuries are inevitable.
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