Pep Guardiola has revealed that it has crossed his mind that players could strike over welfare concerns, although he doesn’t think it will happen.
The Manchester City boss says he agrees with Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson, who spoke out this week, that the welfare of the players is not taken seriously enough by those running the match.
The intensity of the Christmas calendar, and the burden it places on players, is a topic of annual debate but this year the problem is exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.
A number of clubs are now facing a backlog of matches amid a string of postponements while some of those playing do so with seriously exhausted squads.
Guardiola insists he’s not against playing games during the holiday period but believes the fixture list needs to be reduced.
And the Spaniard is frustrated that discussions on the subject rarely lead to decisive action.
He said: âThe Boxing Day tradition in the Premier League is extremely important. That’s one of the characteristics, that’s why the Premier League is special. It won’t change.
âI would love to play in this period with a lot of games. It is a tradition from centuries ago. Boxing Day was so fun for families to go to the stadiums. I can imagine January 1 in London – Arsenal v Man City – it will be so nice.
âThe problem is with the devices. The calendar, 365 days a year with international duties for the national team, huge competitions with a lot of matches.
âThe players have two or three weeks of vacation in the summer and it’s the season again. It’s too much.
“Should the players and managers all be together and go on strike, or something, because it’s not going to be resolved with just words?” For FIFA, the Premier League, broadcastersâ¦ business is more important than well-being.
When asked if he thinks the players are really going to hit, he replied at a press conference: “No I don’t think so because we want to play, we want to keep going, make people happy. ‘go to the stadium on the 26th and 27th, 29th, 31st and first, and play games because we love to do that.
âI’m not saying there is a reason to strike but (there are) more games and more games and less vacations. It is a problem.”
Maheta Molango, director general of the Association of Professional Footballers, believes the authorities must take this matter seriously now.
He said: âI have spoken with many senior players on this issue. I can tell you it’s not going to go away. Players don’t choose to speak out on issues like this without giving it a lot of thought.
âAs a union, the PFA allows players to remain united. This unity gives them enormous strength.
âNow it’s up to those running the game at all levels to start taking this seriously, so it’s an issue that can be addressed constructively with the players at the heart of the conversation. It’s got to happen now. It’s not something that can be sent back on the road again. “