Football “is dreaming of disaster”, placing more demands on players and forcing them to make drastic career decisions, PFA chief executive Maeta Molango said.
Premier League matches will average over 100 minutes in the coming season after game lawmakers have instructed referees at competitions around the world to more accurately measure time lost due to stoppages.
The approach was first used at the World Cup in Qatar last year, where it was largely received positively, but Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne and Manchester United defender Raphael Varane have already highlighted the impact of such a move on a long domestic season.
Varane retired from international football at the age of 29 earlier this year, likening the demands of playing at the highest level to being in a washing machine and said the new measure was “harmful” along with an already busy schedule.
Molango believes other players will feel like they have no choice but to follow Varane’s lead and fears things will get worse when European club competitions are expanded from 2024 to 2025 and the FIFA Club World Cup featuring 32 teams will start at the end of the same campaign. .
“What (Varan) says is that ‘it’s not sustainable.’ And this is just the beginning of the problem, because by next year, when we open a new cycle, it will be just crazy. We are dreaming of disaster,” he said.
“It gets to the point where we don’t tell them to take action. This is what they want to take it themselves. So we’re telling the authorities that you’re taking this to the extreme.
“The union will not say, ‘Do this or that.’ It’s the players themselves telling us, “Let’s do something.”
“It’s unsustainable, it’s out of control, and if you don’t do something, we’ll be in trouble.”
Figures released by the EFL on Twitter showed average ball play time for the weekend’s matches was 58 minutes, up from 50 minutes last season, with the fourth official’s stoppage time up by an average of 5.9 minutes.
Molango was asked if he thinks match lengths will gradually return to normal as players get used to the new approach.
“We need to think about how we got to this point,” he said. “That’s why we said we need to have these talks with the authorities.
“Until you see how certain changes play out, it’s difficult to assess. I don’t think that a measure applied to a tournament that lasts a month can be immediately extrapolated to the whole season.”
Molango said a “significant number” of players had expressed concern about the change in approach to stoppage time given the busy calendar, and added: the game.
“And again, not about “we lost the game because of this” and looking for excuses. It was about a problem. That’s how smart they are. They see the bigger picture. They say: “If we, as two teams that love to play and don’t want to be interrupted without wasting time, add eight minutes at the end of the game, I don’t want to think what will happen to teams that really waste time.”
“And if you add those minutes, by Christmas you’ll have played five more games on top of the 70 you’re already playing.”