Tired footballers? Cutting pre-season tours would help

July 22, 2010

Critics said the World Cup lacked quality because the players were tired after a long, draining season.

Yet with the golden glow of Spain’s triumph still glistening in a Madrid trophy cabinet, clubs are already hawking their players around the world for pre-season friendlies. OK, those who reached the latter stages in South Africa are still on holiday but they will be back very quickly to join team mates who began their pre-season work at the start of July.

This means soccer is a 12-month game. Yes, the pre-season tours may bring in funds to the clubs but are the amounts so massive that it is worth risking your players’ condition for the forthcoming campaign?

Top players are paid obscene amounts but their careers are short and they hardly get any time to have holidays. In England, a player will often not get more than one day off in a row between July and May.

They are compelled to take holidays in the summer break and are then dragged away from their families again to be tired out in the U.S. or Asia on what are effectively promotional tours where the results mean nothing. Their break is so short that few will lose their underlying fitness and most would much rather play a couple of friendlies in their home patch before the season.

It is not even as if the friendlies give new signings time to settle. Most big buys happen late on in the transfer window and players are often thrust into a new team for the first league game of the campaign with no prior practice with their new colleagues.

If we want to give players a proper rest and ensure the next World Cup sparkles, scrapping tiring pre-season tours would be a start.

PHOTO: Everton players jog during a practice session at Sydney Olympic Park, Australia July 5, 2010. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz

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