England: Sarina Wiegman calls on FIFA and UEFA to fix congested women's game calendar

Frustration: Sarina Wiegman  (PA)
Frustration: Sarina Wiegman (PA)

Lionesses boss Sarina Wiegman has once again urged FIFA and UEFA to fix the congested calendar in the women’s game.

England players have played major tournaments in the past three summers and Wiegman has previously expressed fears of burnout.

The Lionesses will not play in this summer’s Olympics as Team GB have not qualified, but England still have Euro 2025 qualifiers in June and July. The time between the June and July windows has caused issues before and ahead of last year’s World Cup clubs and countries were at loggerheads over players’ release dates.

Wiegman has revealed talks have taken place to stop a repeat of that, but she believes the onus is on FIFA and UEFA to find a long-term solution.

“Well so far, it looks similar to last year,” said Wiegman, when asked about the calendar in the women’s game. “So, I am very worried about that. What you mentioned, we have a June window and then in between the June and July window there is no football - except for Spain. They have two more matches there.

Sarina Wiegman is concerned about the welfare of players (Getty Images)
Sarina Wiegman is concerned about the welfare of players (Getty Images)

“Then, after that, there is the Olympics, which is not for us, and then in the beginning of September, there is the Champions League again.

“So what you want, what the players ask all the time too, is - where is rest for us? Because they want to compete, we want the players fit and fresh, which means that you always also need rest, a proper rest.

“You need to train in between June and July too, so we have had conversations with clubs. These have been very good conversations, but we still don’t have a solution for that period.

“And I think that FIFA and UEFA need to solve that for the players. I don’t want to get in the same situation with the players, with the clubs, that we had last year. No one wants that and that’s how the conversations with the clubs have been too.

“So, hopefully FIFA and UEFA solve that and especially this summer, but then after when we talk about the calendar from ’25 on, this really needs to be solved.

“Yes it is complex at moments, but players at the highest level, the demands are so high they need a proper rest in between seasons - so things really need to be changed.”

Alessia Russo played in a Champions League qualifier for Arsenal just three weeks after the World Cup final

The Women’s Super League is expected to start later this year due to the Olympics, but players could still be forced to play Champions League qualifiers.

That was the case for England striker Alessia Russo, who played in Arsenal’s Champions League qualifier just three weeks after the World Cup final. Russo duly joined up late for England’s camp in September, missing their opening game with Scotland, to ensure she got a rest.

Wiegman could opt to do the same in June if players need a rest, although she is naturally eager to field her best XI if possible.

“I hope players are fit enough to play and fresh enough,” she said. “But that becomes harder and harder because players have consecutive tournaments, they keep playing and they don’t have rest.

“I think it starts with the FIFA calendar and I know that’s complex, but it starts with the FIFA calendar. Then, of course, it’s UEFA, so it starts with the UEFA Champions League. If that starts later, then it’s…because the Women’s Super League, when we talk about the summer, starts a little later.

“But players can’t have rest when you play in the first round of the Champions League. You still can’t have proper rest.

“So then it starts with UEFA and then of course, the federations need to adapt to that too here in Europe when we have a winter competition. If you adapt a little bit, then you can build in some rest for players - and that’s what we really need to do.”