The aim of the study was to explore the perceptions of elite professional footballers on various dimensions related to the International Match Calendar. A cross-sectional design by means of a survey was conducted among male elite professional footballers playing in national teams and/or continental competitions. The survey questions were formulated during two expert meetings with football stakeholders (including players), covering the following dimensions: number of matches and related recovery, influence of travelling, and in- and off-season breaks. A total of 543 elite professional footballers completed the survey (response rate: 36%), of whom 55% were playing in their national teams. Around 35–40% of the participants reported playing too many matches per season with an insufficient number of recovery days in between. Nearly two-thirds of the participants reported that travelling had a significant negative impact on their recovery, performances and/or health. Elite professional footballers were in favour of an in-and off-season break lasting 14 days and 5 weeks, respectively. The findings of our study suggest that there is a need to review the International Match Calendar and implement measures in elite professional football to empower the players’ recovery and performances.
Gouttebarge, V., Brink, M. S., & Kerkhoffs, G. M. M. J. (2019). The perceptions of elite professional footballers on the International Match Calendar: a cross-sectional study. Science and Medicine in Football, 3(4), 339-342. https://doi.org/10.1080/24733938.2019.1617432