‘I wouldn’t do it’: England’s Wiegman and Stokes oppose plan for more World Cups

The England Women manager, Sarina Wiegman, has cautioned against plans for a biennial World Cup because of the toll it would take on players.

“I wouldn’t do it,” the former Netherlands head coach said before her team’s second 2023 Women’s Wêreldbeker qualifier, in Luxembourg, on Tuesday night. “It’s not very good for the players, for their welfare.

“When you have all these tournaments [World Cups, Olympics and Euros] every year, where are the players going to get some rest? Where are they going to recover from a very intense football year every year? Players are not robots.”

Wiegman, who said that Leah Williamson would continue as captain in the absence of the injured Steph Houghton, urged Fifa to include managers and players in its consultations. Fifa has said it will hold an online summit with football associations next Thursday.

“I hope that all the stakeholders will be asked and that they will take some advice from them, and coaches with international experience are stakeholders and we should be part of that discussion, and we know the players: players are stakeholders too," sy het gese.

The England full-back Demi Stokes echoed Wiegman’s misgivings. “The welfare of players physically but most of all mentally is important,” the Manchester City player said. “When you come back from a tournament, whether it’s been successful or unsuccessful, it is very taxing and very draining.”

Stokes said if the change were made it would be important that resources were put in to support players through the increasingly intense schedule. “Welfare of players, physio, strength and conditioning, all that then has to elevate with it," sy het gese.

Stokes has seen the impact international tournaments can have on club football, with City shouldering a huge number of injuries primarily among players who competed with Team GB at the Olympics. Lucy Bronze, Keira Walsh, Ellie Roebuck, Steph Houghton, Lauren Hemp, Caroline Weir, Ellen White and Georgia Stanway have, or have had, injuries requiring varying levels of treatment.

“We want to put on good performances and play good football and I think in order to do that you have to have the full package of making sure a player is mentally, fisies, recovered to go again,” said Stokes. “At some point you will break down if you keep going and going and going.”

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