Vivianne Miedema calls on football authorities to address playing schedule
By Ali Rampling
Vivianne Miedema has called on the football authorities to address the congested domestic and international playing schedule after being granted a leave of absence in November for rest and recovery purposes.
Miedema missed two of the Netherlands' Euro 2022 group matches after testing positive for Covid-19 test and was bed-bound for 10 days with symptoms. She returned to club action with Arsenal in September, but admitted she didn't feel 'physically and mentally ready to play'.
Jonas Eidevall and Emma Hayes have both highlighted the frequency of international breaks in the women's football calendar and the lack of freshness this causes as a factor contributing to the current mountain of injuries in the game. There have been three international windows since Euro 2022 concluded, while players competing at the Olympics face playing at a major tournament in five consecutive summers.
“As a player you want to play in the big tournaments, the difference is we have more international windows in women’s football," said Miedema.
“We play the Olympics with our A team instead of Under-23s, I think that’s something FIFPRO and FIFA need to start looking at. If they want to make the calendar the same as the men, then we can’t have six international windows when the men have four.
“We don’t have the same numbers in a squad as the men either. If you look at Man City men’s team they have 22 to 23 amazing first-team players, we have 18 to 19. They need to start listening to us players and not just basing decisions on money or popularity or marketing. We need to try to come to a solution.
“We need to start protecting the players, people will come to the Emirates to see Leah (Williamson) play and Kim Little play and Beth (Mead) play and I think we need to start realising that players’ protection and safety is the most important thing.”
Miedema missed Arsenal's victory over Leicester and the Netherlands' November international camp and spent time away in Australia during her break. She has scored in consecutive matches since her return and called on other clubs to be open to allowing players time off when needed.
“As a player I was in a fortunate position to be at a club like Arsenal, I also think my name and my experience in the game helped me," Miedema added. "I think it’s something a lot of players won’t ask for themselves. Coaches for national teams and club football need to be a bit more aware of it and instigate it themselves.
“But I hope that me taking the time off will be good for a few players who don’t feel confident enough to ask for a break and they don’t feel ashamed for needing it; it’s been so non-stop over the last couple of years."