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2023 Women's World Cup

Rest? When? 2023 World Cup player survey underscores ongoing world calendar issue

World Cup players felt like they got no rest between club and country demands. The problem isn’t going away.

Photo: Sipa USA-USA TODAY Sports

A survey of 2023 Women’s World Cup players, conducted by world players’ union FIFPRO, underscored the growing conflict between international duties and professional leagues in women’s soccer. The problem was particularly pervasive due to the timing of this year’s World Cup, which started and ended approximately one month later than previous editions due to it being staged in Australia and New Zealand during the Southern Hemisphere’s winter.

Fifty-three percent of players surveyed felt they did not have enough rest time before their first World Cup match, FIFPRO said, while 60% felt their post-tournament rest was insufficient, with most players reporting that they had less than two weeks off before rejoining their clubs.

It is a predictable aftermath for a problem that brewed ahead of the World Cup. The National Women’s Soccer League and U.S. Soccer clashed last winter over whether players would be released outside of mandatory FIFA dates and quietly came to an agreement ahead of the World Cup. Months later, the problem played out publicly in Europe, with the European Clubs Association initially taking a stand against releasing players to their national teams — most of which planned for and eventually executed weeks-long training camps ahead of the World Cup — outside of required dates. Individual decisions were ultimately left with clubs as part of a compromise.

Sarah Gregorius, FIFPRO’s director of policy and strategic relations for women’s football, called the conversations “polarizing” in a roundtable with reporters earlier this week.

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