By Biodun Busari
Injuries sustained by footballers across Europe’s top five leagues have increased by 20 per cent in the 2021/22 season.
In a study published by insurance brokers, Howden, it was revealed on Wednesday that the intensity of games played in a congested calendar ahead of the World Cup was responsible for this.
Howden also established that clubs paid a staggering price for injuries of £513 million ($550 million) last season.
The injury cost was calculated by multiplying the cost per day of a player by the number of days they were unavailable because of an injury.
World players’ union FIFPRO says structures must be put in place to limit player workloads.
The report also uncovered that for the first time, a European season will be interjected by a mid-season World Cup tournament in Qatar scheduled to commence on November 20.
And this would further aggravate the fixture congestion experienced by the English Premier League, Spanish La Liga, Italian Serie A, German Bundesliga and French Ligue 1.
European football governing body UEFA has expanded the number of competitive games with the addition of the Nations League to the international schedule and is increasing European club competitions from 2024.
World governing body FIFA is set to do the same, with the World Cup expanded to 48 teams from 2026.
The Premier League had the highest injury cost of any of the top five divisions at nearly £185 million, with La Liga in Spain a distant second at £109 million.
French champions Paris Saint-Germain had the highest injury cost of any club in Europe at £34 million.
Injuries in the Premier League were up to 1,231 in 2021/22, compared to 938 in the previous season.
The permanent adoption of five substitutions per side by football lawmakers IFAB is designed to lessen the load on players.
But FIFPRO is urging FIFA to go further by mandating minimum rest periods of four weeks in the off-season and a mid-season break of two weeks for each player.