English clubs are pushing back at national teams’ World Cup preparations, opting to release their players just 10 days before the tournament so they have more time to rest after their club seasons, the Telegraph reports.
The move follows FIFA regulations, which state that clubs are obliged to release their players for national team duty on July 10. But the proposed date comes weeks after many national team camps are scheduled to take place.
The European Club Association has told women’s national teams that players will not be available until the international window officially starts due to concerns about player welfare.
“The issue of early call-ups is a hangover from the game in its amateur form and is detrimental to the future success and growth of women’s football,” ECA head of women’s football Claire Bloomfield told the Telegraph. “They also generate a great deal of unnecessary tension in the relationship between clubs and their players.”
The ECA has also written to FIFA to ask for their support. As the list of injured women’s soccer stars continues to grow, the ECA believes that players need more rest and an actual offseason.
Many national teams had planned to start their training camps in mid-June, with the intention of traveling to Australia and New Zealand in early July to give their players time to get acclimated before games begin. England is currently scheduled to fly to Australia on July 5.
FIFA will compensate clubs for releasing their players after July 10.
“This is not a matter of financial compensation or the absence of adequate protection and insurance, but a serious concern for player welfare,” Bloomfield told the Telegraph. “We were given a very clear mandate by our member clubs, which includes engaging in constructive and direct communication with our key stakeholders and partners, and this will be our focus in the coming days.”
A number of high-profile stars have suffered injuries in recent months, including England captain Leah Williamson, England forward Beth Mead and Dutch star Vivianne Miedema are all out with ACL injuries. England defender Lucy Bronze also underwent a knee surgery this week that isn’t expected to keep her out of the World Cup.
The WSL is set to conclude on May 27, and the Women’s Champions League final will be played on June 3. England, Sweden, Denmark and Norway are said to be among the national teams requesting clubs to release players for a mid-June training camp start.
There is also concern over the World Cup’s Aug. 20 end date, which gives players very little time to rest before Champions League first-round qualifiers begin as early as Sept. 6. The 2023-24 WSL season then begins the final weekend of September, with another international break scheduled for mid-September.
The NWSL and the USWNT underwent a similar dispute in February ahead of the NWSL season, which has since been resolved.