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Imagine Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale had to dash to a Champions League qualifier for Real Madrid just 48 hours after playing in the Euro 2016 semifinal between Portugal and Wales.

Players from Slovakia had to make similar commitments last week after a last-16 match against Germany, raising questions about Europe’s overcrowded match calendar.

 

Kornel Salata, a 31-year-old defender (photo, number 19) came on as a substitute against Germany on Sunday and two days later played ninety minutes for Slovan Bratislava in the first preliminary round of the UEFA Europa League. Slovakia’s reserve goalkeeper Jan Mucha also hurried to the same game against Partizani in Albania.

Salata was one of 13 players at Euro 2016 with Slovakia, Hungary, Poland and Iceland last week, just as their clubs were starting Champions League or Europa League qualifiers. Most clubs had to do without their star players.

Salata, who agreed to play in the match after negotiating from France with the club, will only get a few days of holiday before the domestic season starts, according to his representative Roman Vojtek.

“He has a contract and has to respect it,” Vojtek said.

“The problem is not with the club but with the organisation,”Votek added. All competitions involved are organised by UEFA. “Slovakia is a small country and our clubs do not get the best conditions.”

Hungarian national team player Tamas Priskin did not play in Slovan’s match. Four of his countrymen did also not appear for their club: Roland Juhasz and Adam Lang (both Videoton), Barnabas Bese (MTK) and Mihaly Korhut (Debrecen). Swedish clubs AIK and IFK Göteborg did without Icelandic internationals Haukur Hauksson and Hjörtur Hermansson. Poland’s Cracovia and Zaglebie Lubin missed Bartosz Kapustka and Filip Starzynski.

“This is frustrating because these clubs and their players worked very hard for an entire season to earn a spot in the qualifying phase of the Champions or Europa League,” Tijs Tummers, Head of FIFPro’s Technical Committee, said.

“There is a clear flaw in the international match calendar, which prevents some clubs from fielding their best players, thereby hurting their chances of advancing to the next rounds.”

Scientific research has shown that a three-day rest period between matches is necessary for players to recover from their match and to minimise the risk of injuries. Players should have “3 to 4 weeks” of time off after the end of each season, according to FIFPro Chief Medical Officer Dr. Vincent Gouttebarge.

An optimum detraining period with partial or complete cessation of training for 3 to 4 weeks should be given to players to allow them to recover physically and mentally before the start of a new season,” Gouttebarge said.

"The question is whether these players, like Kornel Salata, will be given that opportunity.”

 

Rest period

Scientific research has shown that a three-day rest period between matches is necessary for players to recover from their match and to minimize the risk of injuries. FIFPro noticed that there are only two rest days between the second semifinal (Thursday 7 July) and the final (10 July), which means that one of the teams does not have the opportunity to fully recover.

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