Jamie Carragher has hit out at the decision to schedule South American World Cup qualifiers on Friday morning, less than two days before Premier League action resumes.
Leeds United are one of the sides who are set to be affected by that, with Raphinha reportedly due to start for Brazil less than 38 hours before Marcelo Bielsa’s side kick off against Southampton on Saturday.
Once again, it looks as though the international schedule is set to impact a number of Premier League games this weekend.
With qualifiers in South America set to be played overnight on Thursday and into Friday morning, teams face a huge task to get some of their key players back and available for club games on Saturday.
Leeds are one side who face such an issue, with Raphinha seemingly due to be involved for Brazil against Uruguay, a game that is due to kick-off at 1:30am on Friday morning UK time.
Now it seems that Carragher is far from impressed with the decision by FIFA to schedule those games so close to the resumption of club action.
Writing in his column for the Telegraph about the issue, the former Liverpool and England defender said: “The Premier League has a credibility issue on Saturday. For a long time I have considered international breaks an inconvenience. This weekend, it is an unacceptable intrusion.
“Eight Brazil players and three from Argentina will be among the Premier League’s South American contingent representing their countries in the early hours of Friday morning.
“The following day, Liverpool are resigned to being without goalkeeper Alisson and midfielder Fabinho at Watford. Manchester City are likely to face Burnley without Ederson and Gabriel Jesus. Chelsea are expected to miss Thiago Silva, Manchester United Fred, and Leeds Raphina.”
Given the investment clubs put into those players, Carragher believes it is unfair they will not be able to get a full return on that, as he added: “Although all the title-contending clubs are affected to some extent, the integrity of the matchday has been undermined due to avoidable, external circumstances.
It is inexcusable that FIFA has allowed World Cup qualifiers to be scheduled at such a time which means the clubs paying the players’ salaries – in some cases around £250,000 a week – cannot reasonably use them in an important domestic match.”
It does feel rather hard to argue with these comments from Carragher.
Aside from the issue of clubs paying so much money to sign and keep these players with them, for those on the pitch themselves it is far from fair.
Not only are they being forced to play two matches in the space of as many days – if they are to feature – they also have to travel half way around the world, to a vastly different time zone, between games in order to do so.
This feels like something that highlights just why issues around player welfare need to be addressed at the minute, and if they aren’t, you feel things could get very messy, very soon.