Photograph: Asanka Brendon Ratnayake/Reuters
Two-thirds of players at this year’s Women’s World Cup feel they were not at their physical peak during the tournament and a similar number have criticised the lack of recovery time after it, with one describing their quick return to club football as “mentally exhausting”.
In a report by the players’ union, Fifpro, which surveyed 260 players from 26 of the 32 teams that took part in the tournament in Australia and New Zealand, 53% said they did not have enough rest before their opening fixture and 60% said their post-tournament rest was insufficient.
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Among the respondents, 86% said they were given less than two weeks off before restarting work at their clubs. Fifpro guidelines recommend an off-season break of four weeks and retraining period of six weeks. “I was trying to rest and prepare at the same time, which doesn’t really work,” one player said.
Concerns have also been raised about the standard of support staff in team delegations. Ten per cent of the players said they did not have a pre-tournament medical examination and 22% said they did not have an ECG, both of which are part of Fifa’s tournament regulations. Meanwhile, 60% of players said they lacked mental health support.
“Anything below 100% when it comes to access to an ECG or undertaking a pre-tournament medical is not acceptable,” said Fifpro’s head of strategy and research for women’s football, Dr Alex Culvin. “All players need to complete these important checks before they compete, and the regulations need to be applied and adhered to in full.
“Players need an environment that supports their holistic wellbeing – from mental health through to tournament conditions, so they have the platform to be at their competitive best.”
The survey also found that one in three of the players earns less than $30,000 (£23,600) a year from football, and one in five supplement their income with a second job.