Sarina Wiegman sounds fresh warning over player welfare: ‘They aren’t robots’

Sarina Wiegman sounds fresh warning over player welfare: ‘They aren’t robots’

England boss Sarina Wiegman fears for the welfare of her players due to the congested calendar of the women’s game.

The Lionesses reached the Women’s World Cup final last month, losing to Spain 1-0, but they are back in action next week, only 33 days later, to take on Scotland in the Nations League.

Some players have already played for their clubs too, with striker Alessia Russo appearing twice for Arsenal in their Champions League qualifiers earlier this month.

Wiegman is concerned by the situation and has called for governing bodies to urgently review it because her players are not “robots”.

“I am very worried,” said Wiegman. “I was worried before the World Cup and we knew this was a very short turnaround.

“We are talking about about the calendar and we really have to get connected with FIFA, UEFA and the federations. We have to make that better.

“Of course the game is growing, which is really good, we see the improvement of the game but also with like commercial things coming into the game.

“But it has to grow together and players need some rest too. Next week they come in and some players only had six days off, which after such a high level, high-pressure competition is not good for them.

“That has gone on for a long time, because we have major tournaments in the summer all the time. The urgency to solve it and make it better is really, really high.

“Next week, players will come in and we will first have to see how they are physically and get them fresh. That’s going to be a challenge.

“Of course you have the team and you want to perform at the highest level with the team, also you want players to be fresh.

“For me, together with my staff, with all the expertise we have, it’s [about] balancing: is this player still fit enough and fresh enough to play the game?

“That is balancing and it is so intense. As I have said before, players are not robots and they really want to perform so they will always show up.

“But as players it is very important to give feedback. We talk to the players and when we really think someone is not ready to play then we have the discussion.”