There comes a time of the so characteristic cyclical rebecca, the one that rears its head year after year so that "one of ours" is seriously injured. Gavi has broken his knee and his club, FC Barcelona, is angry right away. Related media points to Luis de la Fuente, the Spanish coach, as the culprit, for having made him play two consecutive matches against Cyprus and Georgia when the place for the European Cup, and not the first place in the group, was assured. They are satisfied with a part of the problem, very real, but not with the whole.
They prefer not to question, for example, what responsibility the big clubs also have in the oversaturation of the calendar, the great evil that affects today's elite football. The same eagerness to collect money that drives FIFA and UEFA, scurrying machines to produce new competitions that squeeze footballers without them belonging to them, is what leads Barcelona, in the same season, to spend fourteen days on tour in the USA, to compete a friendly in December in Dallas and to go to Riyadh for a week to compete in the Spanish Super Cup in January. The cow is hungry because it is being milked and no one can help it. The noise will end until another crack enters the OR.
Complaining doesn't fix anything. The only solution was proposed by Marcelo Bielsa, you know, a madman: "We have to pay less to play less". And the crazy ones, you shouldn't pay attention to them.
LA FIFA I LA UEFA
The masters of the movement, the most insatiable
Pending the ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union on whether or not UEFA and FIFA exercise a punishable monopoly, both corporations will continue to squeeze the calendar and its main players, the footballers, season after season. UEFA, still hungry after pulling the Nations League off its sleeve for national teams, has projected a Champions League with many more matches to be rolled out from next year: thirty-six clubs will compete, divided into four groups of nine, and the first phase will go from 96 games to 144. A brutality. Weeks with Champions Day on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are announced. And because there are no more days.
FIFA gets jealous, takes out the cash register and a greed that would move Molière's miser when it comes to accumulating euros, dollars, rubles and whatever else is needed, and shoots too. His latest invention is the Club World Cup. What used to be a World Cup that pitted the European Cup champion against the Libertadores champion, already played out during the last editions, will become in 2025 a competition played between June and July with thirty-two teams involved. Round of 16, quarters, semi-finals and final will be held. Quite a party, especially for the distribution of dividends. The alibi is to turn football into a global spectacle. The underlying reality, open markets by rummaging under rocks if necessary.
The World Cup in Qatar, much criticized for the corruption discovered in the awarding, will be succeeded by versions for all tastes, obviously guided by money. The 2026 World Cup will go from 32 to 48 teams, a jump that will dramatically increase the number of games to fill, the bland ones. The 2030 edition will involve six organizing countries, including Spain, while Saudi Arabia, a paradigm of democratic society, has already left the 2034 edition.
Big casualties, but not so much
The main losers when a player is injured competing with their national team are undoubtedly the clubs, which are the ones who buy and maintain the squads in exchange for investments and multimillion-dollar salaries. Over the years, the clubs have managed to cushion the effect of casualties with increasingly high financial compensations, but one should ask whether, in addition to money, they could not contribute to stop the bleeding (injuries are every increasingly frequent) fighting for a more rational calendar. On the contrary, the answer is to imitate the drift of the international associations that criticize so much by expanding the calendars in front (pre-seasons in distant lands with summer classics that stress the footballer in full preparation), in the middle (friendlies and a Spanish Super Cup in Arabia ) and from behind (more friendly if possible). In case of long-term injury, FIFA pays around 20,000 euros per day to appease the anger of the clubs. Half a year off is equivalent to 4 million euros, a good pinch to keep quiet. Or at least, not to scream. Money is comforting, but the crux of the matter has to do with the number of matches. Randomness is alluded to to justify some injuries. It might be, but it's as simple as applying logic: the more games you play, the more likely you are to get hurt. An elite footballer today can reach 70 games in a season. An insane number.
Without rebellion there will be no solution
The players, last on the list in the clearing of responsibilities, also have their share of blame, although it is smaller. It is true that, despite their millionaire salaries, they are still workers, but if they rose up collectively, their force would be powerful. Every now and then there is an isolated complaint on their part, but in truth they usually happily travel to the national teams because it means prestige which translates into better salaries, more social media impact and honey to catch sponsorships The extreme competitiveness inherent in the guild overrides other considerations here. There isn't a game you don't want to play. Champions, League, Cup, Super Cup, World Cup, Euro Cup, Olympic Games... Gavi, due to his age and way of being, does not anticipate rest. There are other people who should curb their youthful impulse. De la Fuente had the misfortune to remember that Gavi has "a gifted physique" that endures everything 24 hours before breaking his knee. There is no unbreakable body.
When Pep Guardiola lost De Bruyne to injury in August, he despaired: "They send you to Asia, to the United States, very strong matches and people fall. And it continues to fall and will continue to fall because 'the show must go on'. This is a lost battle until the players stand up and say 'let's not play'".