Holland calls for changes to footballing schedule ahead of Qatar 2022


Steve Holland has called on football’s governing bodies to address the relentless footballing schedule, ahead of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. 

Gareth Southgate’s assistant Holland was speaking at the SJA’s British Sports Awards, where he collected the trophy for sports team of the year on behalf of the England men’s team.

Logistical preparations are already underway for the World Cup, which starts on 21 November 2022, with Premier League fixtures scheduled for 12 and 13 November, and Holland believes any side with ambitions to go far will need their share of luck with injuries. 

He said: “Let’s say Harry Kane does a hamstring in the last game for Tottenham prior to Russia [2018 World Cup], we had almost five weeks between that moment and our first game.  

“So a chance to recover, a chance to rehab, a chance to train again. But this time round that injury rules a player out of the tournament.  

“Players in the past, the Beckhams and the Rooneys, when players have been taken maybe not 100% fit, I would argue that would be harder than ever in Qatar. 

“I think it’s the way the game’s going now. It’s 24/7, 365. 

“What that means is that the more matches there are the less time there is to prepare for the matches. Hopefully at some point the necessary authorities will address that.”

Holland also reflected on a magical though ultimately heartbreaking EURO 2020 tournament. 

England’s performance at the Euros saw them beat Germany, Ukraine and Denmark in the knockout stages, before ultimately losing the final on penalties to Italy.  

He said: “The bit I remember is the bad bit. 

“I’ve been lucky – I spent eight years at Chelsea, so I’ve spent some time stood on a podium receiving a medal or a trophy. But there is nothing worse than standing on the grass looking at another team on a podium.  

“Reaching the final is something that everybody involved should be, and I think is, proud of. Ultimately the taste that you’re left with is still the taste of defeat. That hopefully will drive all the group on in Qatar.  

“This time next year we’ll be between game two and game three of the group stage in the World Cup so it will soon come round and the challenge is to go a step further. 

“It’s also quite different this year in the respect that every venue is 30 mins from another so the travel is less. Depending on which group you go into you can have two days between matches in the knockout stage or you can have four or five.   

“So all those things are things we can be aware of so when the draw is made we can try and be as far ahead of the game as possible.” 

Tum Balogun is a member of the SJA Academy, to get involved click here