Tuesday the 18th of May

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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Players’ health is more important than money, chaplain tells football authorities

The Westminster Chaplain for Sport has urged football governing bodies to place the health and well-being of players above the sport’s affluence and wealth.

His call comes amid claims from Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola that football’s “crazy schedule” could “kill our players”.

Mgr Vladimir Felzmann, who is also the Canary Wharf Multifaith Chaplaincy’s dedicated Catholic Chaplain for professional workers on the Estate, said he was well aware of “crazy schedules”.

“As Roman Catholic Chaplain to Canary Wharf I know this ‘crazy schedule’ is there in other areas of life where money has hegemony,” he told The Catholic Universe.

“Football’s authorities would do well to take a leaf out of the Roman Catholic Church’s Common Good Teaching,” he continued.

“Rooted in the conviction of enlightened self-interest – or Ubuntu – it knows that what is good for you is good for me, what is bad for you is bad for me – certainly in the longer term.”

Mgr Felzmann, who is also the CEO for the John Paul II Foundation for Sport, suggested that football authorities would actually benefit more in the long-run if they gave players time to rest.

“Placing players under inhuman pressures increases injuries and decreases – in the longer term – performances,” he said.

“It’s great that Pep has spoken out. I hope his voice will be heard; for the good of the beautiful game – in the longer term certainly.”

Guardiola, who last season led his side to the domestic treble, has insisted that he does not want his resting international stars to return to training too soon.

City were recently without a number of their star names on their pre-season tour of Asia due to summer commitments in international tournaments.

Sergio Aguero, Nicolas Otamendi, Fernandinho, Ederson and Gabriel Jesus have all been at the Copa America while Riyad Mahrez was playing in the African Cup of Nations.

Premier League champions City begin their new season when they face Liverpool in the Community Shield this weekend, on Sunday 4th August.

However, Guardiola said while some players were able to return at the end of July, others could come back as late as this weekend. “They decide whether to come back after three or four weeks off,” he said.

“I don’t want them to come back if they are not fit, or if they are tired and have still not recovered from a tough season.

“We cannot forget we are starting the season and Mahrez hasn’t finished the previous one,” he continued.

“It’s a crazy schedule and we’ll kill our players sooner or later, we cannot sustain it for a long time.

“They have to rest, but if the people want to come back a little bit earlier, they are more than welcome.”

Today’s fixture:

Sunday 4th August

The FA Community Shield
Manchester City v Liverpool – 3:00pm

Picture: Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson (left) and Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling (right). The two sides will face off later today in the hope of winning the Community Shield. (Richard Sellers/PA).