While a large number a country in Europe announced a national lockdown earlier this month, their football teams are still competing internationally, mixing players from different leagues and travelling across all Europe. This doesn’t make sense.
First of all, it is not safe. As said above, teams have players from a lot of different leagues, even England whose players are mostly playing in the Premier League have Sancho and Bellingham playing in the Bundesliga.
Mixing players have increased the cases of covid-19 within players as a lot of them tested positive with their national team at each break. Mbappé, Ronaldo and Salah- to cite only the biggest stars as at least 5 to 10 players were unavailable due to covid-19 after international duty -each of them has tested positive during a different international break. The safety of players, therefore, has to be questioned. Moreover, this caused headache to their managers as the players were forced to isolate and couldn’t take part in their clubs’ games.
This leads to another problem that the international break creates. The less international players the club have, the fresher they will be for domestic league and competition. Indeed, south-American, Asian or African players have to travel notable distant in order to join their countries and then have to travel again across their continent to play their games. The fatigue plays a big role in players’ injuries and performances but this is clearly not respected by FIFA.
Toni Kroos, Real Madrid and German midfielder, expressed his opinion on his own Einfach Mal Luppen podcast about this very compact schedule and he didn’t hold back:
Even though there is truth in what he said, the Nations League had to be play in order to qualify for the 2021 Euro. Same scenario in Africa, Asia/Oceania and America. But the real question is why now? Why, while multiple countries go into a lockdown, the players keep playing? The last international break that has been played last week was the last one for qualifying. Hence it could have been moved to January without impacting the competition. By doing this most players would have had a two-week break over Christmas. The fatigue wouldn’t be a factor and the cases could have been controlled a lot more as the players could have isolate during those two weeks.
We all want the world back to normal as soon as possible, but in the short run the international break in the middle of domestic fixtures is a pointless luxury football, and public health, can ill-afford.