All the way to Australia for a friendly match: 'Beyond ridiculous'

The Premier League season is over, but Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur will still play a friendly match against each other on Wednesday on the other side of the world. Instead of facing each other on English soil, the squads of both teams have flown all the way to Australia.

SoccerDino, Website Writer
Published: 11:38, 21 May 2024

At the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Australian football fans can relish the Premier League stars of both teams on Wednesday.

Newcastle has traveled to the land of the Socceroos with Alexander Isak, Bruno Guimarães, and Kieran Trippier, while Spurs are represented by players like Micky van de Ven, James Maddison, and Heung-min Son. This high-profile friendly has sparked confusion and criticism at home, as there are increasing complaints about the overcrowded match schedule and the overloading of top players.

Former striker Alan Shearer expressed his bewilderment on Match of the Day about the undoubtedly lucrative friendly trip, for which the squads of Newcastle and Spurs will have to spend almost a day on a plane. That's just for one way, mind you. "Can you imagine having to do that as a player who is also going to the Copa América or the Euros? This is beyond ridiculous. I would be totally unhappy with it," said the 53-year-old Shearer, who himself played in three European Championships and one World Cup with England.

The timing and location of this friendly match have raised questions about player welfare and the decision-making process behind scheduling such games. Many argue that the physical and mental toll on players, who already endure grueling seasons and international commitments, is being overlooked in favor of commercial interests. The travel involved in flying to Australia adds to the burden, potentially impacting player performance and increasing the risk of injuries.

For Newcastle, it's not over after Wednesday. Eddie Howe's squad will also face a star team from the Australian A-League on Friday. This additional match further compounds the demands on the players, who will then embark on the long flight back to Europe or South America. The packed schedule leaves little room for rest and recovery, heightening concerns about the impact on player health and performance in upcoming competitions.

In the case of Micky van de Ven, he has a bit more time after the friendly match with Newcastle before he needs to report to the Dutch national team. The 23-year-old defender will skip the first training camp and is expected on Saturday, June 1. This brief respite allows him some recovery time, but the broader issue of player burnout remains. The increasing frequency of such high-demand travel and matches highlights the need for a more balanced approach to scheduling, ensuring that the well-being of players is prioritized alongside the commercial aspects of the sport.

The debate around this friendly in Australia underscores a growing tension in modern football: the balance between commercial ventures and the health and sustainability of its players. As the sport continues to globalize and commercialize, finding a way to harmonize these interests will be crucial for the future of the game.

Updated: 11:38, 21 May 2024