In 2020, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the average football player appeared in 60 matches for club and country. In 2021, FIFA came up with a proposal for the World Cup to be played every two years instead of the current four-year cycle. In 2022, the World Cup will be played in Qatar between November and December.

But just like the donkey stopped and refused to continue and then had a conversation with (mad) Prophet Balaam, the football donkeys are beginning to voice their angst to all the supposed money-grabbing devices of all the football associations, led by FIFA.

After the third-place match in the UEFA Nations League, Belgium’s goalkeeper said, “It’s just a money game and we have to be honest about it.

“We only played this game because, for UEFA, it’s extra money and an extra game on TV.

“Okay, it’s a good game for us because it’s against Italy and for Italy, it’s a good game because it’s against Belgium. Of course, everybody says they wanted to play the game but look at both teams and how much they changed [players]. If both teams had been in the final, there would have been other players playing so this shows that we play too many games.

“In June there are four Nations League games. Why? Next year we’ve to play a World Cup in November and we’ll have to play until the latter stages of June again.

“We’ll get injured. Nobody cares about the players anymore. After a long season, you have to play more games in the Nations League again and you’ll have two weeks of holidays, and that’s not enough for players to go for 12 months at the highest level.

“If we never say anything it’s always the same. Then there’s the Super League, but it’s just the same thing with extra games and another trophy with the Conference Cup or whatever the name is. It’s always the same,” he added.

A report from the International Federation of Professional Footballers (FIFPro) in October analysed “match workload, rest & recovery periods, periodic fixture congestions and travel load, amongst many other areas.”

The report added, “There are almost no football-free periods in the current calendar; there are no safeguards that would prevent excessive workload. We are convinced that new competitions must not be added before the calendar is comprehensively reformed with the players’ interests at heart.”

A former footballer and England captain, Alan Shearer added, “Some of the football we are seeing at the moment is drab. Poor games played by exhausted players in a season where there is no time to rest, no time to recover.

“The quality of matches is suffering. I’d say the intensity and the standard of 75 per cent of games has dropped off dramatically, a consequence of so many matches in so little time and with no time to stop.”

The conversation between players and administrating associations must begin immediately so that football does not suffer irreparable consequences in the immediate future.

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