Former Cameroon international Geremi calls for new match calendar to manage footballers’ health

DOHA, QATAR - DECEMBER 17: Ali Ben Romdhan of Esperance Sportive de Tunis is taken off on a stretcher following an injury during the FIFA Club World Cup 2019 5th place match between Al-Saad Sports Club and Esperance Sportive de Tunis at Khalifa International Stadium on December 17, 2019 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by David Ramos - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Former Cameroon international Geremi Njitap appealed to football authorities to strive to make the sport healthier for players by cutting down the number of trips and increasing the recovery time for players.

Geremi, along with former Brazilian defender Roberto Carlos, want the new international match calendar to protect players and allow them to enhance their performance levels for both club and national team football.

FILE PHOTO: A player is taken off on a stretcher following an injury during a past FIFA Club World Cup match. /Getty Images

Geremi is one of a number of former players who have given their feedback through a Technical Advisory Group as football’s world governing body FIFA holds a consultation process on the sport’s future.

According to the 42-year-old, adapting to new environments throughout the year hinders players from being at their best and negatively impacts their international careers also by reducing the number of years they can play for their national team.

“Most African players play for European clubs. So, when they participate in international competitions they have to travel from Europe to Africa. I can tell you that it’s very tiring. When you travel from Europe in winter, it’s 40 degrees in Africa. There’s a contrast there and, naturally, that has an impact in terms of performance, because you are not at 100 per cent.”

“It’s not easy at all for an African footballer – or an Asian, South American or American footballer – to play in Europe at club level and play for their country too. So, it’s important that we find a solution to avoid putting players and their health at risk.”

The international match calendar for women and men is set to expire at the end of 2023 and 2024 respectively. To that effect, FIFA invited its member associations and other stakeholders to a summit on September 30 where the reformation and improvement of the international match calendar is expected to be discussed.

A controversial proposal that seeks to have the FIFA World Cup held after every two years instead of four is also expected to be on the agenda.