- Overworked footballers could pull out of the Saudi World Cup, the PFA warns
- Saudi Arabia is expected to host in 2034, resulting in another calendar shakeup
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Footballers could pull out of the Saudi World Cup due to workload issues, the PFA chief has warned.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Middle Eastern country was confirmed as the sole bidder for the tournament in 2034, meaning the event – like Qatar last year – will inevitably take place in the winter and in the middle of the European season.
PFA chief executive Maheta Molango believes some of the world’s biggest players, coupled with an ever-expanding calendar, could see them stop playing for their countries.
The path was clear for Saudi Arabia after only rival Australia withdrew interest this morning. After the deadline passed, FIFA later confirmed that Saudi Arabia was the only bidder and confirmed that it is now a formality, expected at the end of 2024.
With Saudi Arabia’s scorching temperatures, a winter tournament and extended domestic seasons are almost certain and Molango believes some of the planet’s biggest names could miss out.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino is expected to name Saudi Arabia to host the 2034 World Cup
PFA boss Maheta Molango believes overworked footballers could be eliminated from the World Cup
The last World Cup, which Argentina won, was moved to a winter venue by hosts Qatar
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“We all want our biggest tournaments to showcase our best players,” he told Mail Sport. “This means we need to start listening when players are dropping out of international football because of the workload they are under. We think that’s a real risk.”
Molango also called for more clarity around the game plan. “It is important that we wait for the details, but we need to get to a situation where the organization of the global match calendar is far better coordinated,” he said.
“We cannot continue to treat tournaments and competitions in isolation. “There is always a knock-on effect.”
Molango has spent time with Manchester United defender Raphael Varane, who retired from international football at the age of 29 earlier this year after playing for France in the final in Qatar. And he questioned a return to a winter event.
“The men’s World Cup in Qatar took place in the European winter but this was considered an exceptional circumstance,” he said. “If that is not to be the case now, we need to understand exactly what that means for planning the rest of the calendar and, crucially, what impact it has on the players in terms of injuries and fitness.”
“We’re not far enough away from Qatar to judge, but we know the players are concerned that they’ll just never get a break.” Extending seasons to accommodate tournament scheduling obviously won’t help. “
FIFA President Gianni Infantino has close ties with Saudi Arabia. On October 4, the governing body shockingly announced that the 2034 tender process would take place at the same time as the 2030 tender.
Potential bidders only had until October 31 to register interest. Within minutes, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman announced that the kingdom would bid.
Saudi Arabia is expected to host in 2034. Infantino (center) was seen in Riyadh last week at the start of the Saudi Esports World Cup (sitting next to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman).
Jürgen Klopp was among many Premier League bosses who were unimpressed by the winter break
Human Rights Watch questioned this “unreasonably tight” deadline.
Minky Worden, director of global initiatives at the campaign group, added: “The possibility that FIFA could award the 2034 World Cup to Saudi Arabia, despite its appalling human rights record and closure of all monitoring, exposes FIFA’s commitment to human rights as a fraud. “
Elsewhere, Eddie Howe, manager of Saudi investment fund Newcastle United, said: “Our trips to Riyadh and Jeddah were two very different experiences.”
“Everywhere we went was well organized; We were well looked after. If this is a sign of what a World Cup could look like, then structurally it will be really good.”