Orange women also suffer from a fuller calendar: ‘This will not go well for long’ | NOW

Just like in men’s football, in women’s football there is a discussion about the overcrowded playing calendar. Even before the first group match at the European Championship, Vivianne Miedema has played 49 matches this season. Foreign clubs fear burnouts now that the players have even fewer days off.

“I think I’ll be on vacation for the first time in 2026.” Miedema says this with a wink when she lists the tournaments of the coming years. This summer she will play at the European Championships, next year at the World Cup and with a good performance at the global final tournament a year later at the Olympic Games in Paris.

No other international with the Orange Women played as many matches as Miedema in the past season: 49. The striker only got three days from her club Arsenal after the elimination of the Netherlands at the Olympic Games in Tokyo. Nine months later, she played her last game for ‘The Gunners’. In the meantime, she had seven days off.

The fact that players were soon in training with the national teams in preparation for the European Championship was reason for twelve top European clubs to sound the alarm in the English newspaper. The Telegraph† Officially, FIFA’s international match period for the European Championship only started on June 20, but in England they already started the European Championship preparation on May 30. The Orange Women started ten days later with a select group.

Due to the short holidays after the club season, clubs fear that internationals with injuries will drop out during and after the European Championship. And in the worst case: a burnout. “Players are getting burned out,” Bayern Munich sporting director Bianca Rech told The Telegraph† “This should be an important topic of conversation.”

Most played matches of Orange internationals for club and country in 2021/2022

  • 1. Vivianne Miedema (Arsenal) – 49 duels
  • 2. Dominique Janssen (VfL Wolfsburg) – 47 duels
  • 3. Jill Roord (VfL Wolfsburg) – 47 duels
  • 4. Sherida Spitse (Ajax) – 44 duels
  • 5. Victoria Pelova (Ajax) – 42 matches

Vivianne Miedema played the most matches of all Orange Women players.

Vivianne Miedema played the most matches of all Orange Women players.

Vivianne Miedema played the most matches of all Orange Women players.

Photo: Getty Images

Van Dongen: ‘When will I see my family?’

When Orange international Merel van Dongen finished at her club Atlético Madrid on 15 May after a season with 36 matches, she took it well. She stayed in the Netherlands for a week and then had a week’s holiday in Ibiza with her friend before joining the Orange Women on June 9.

“I don’t think I have much vacation after the European Championship, so it was now or never. I really took those two weeks off. If I hadn’t done that, I would have had to continue until the Christmas break without two days off in a row. It goes on and on. I was really looking forward to those two weeks off. I was a bit exhausted.”

Van Dongen can well imagine the concerns of the clubs, although she thinks the problems are more mental than physical in nature. “During a training week you can reduce the intensity a bit. But you have to imagine that of the 365 days a year we only have twenty days of vacation. The rest is training, traveling by bus and plane and sleeping in a hotel.”

“You also just have to have a day off every now and then. Just do something you enjoy, especially if you play abroad. We have family and friends living in the Netherlands, when will you see them? It is a challenge to I can find balance. That works reasonably well. But I wouldn’t mind holding my nephew in my arms a little more often.”

Miedema, who had a month off after her club season: “It is very busy. And on top of that we do not have the same facilities and staff as the men. Fortunately, I am good at indicating my limit. I I can take a day off during the week, because I know that I will be drafted in the weekend anyway. But I think a lot of girls are not in the same position.”

Merel van Dongen: “When will I see my family and friends in the Netherlands?”

Merel van Dongen: "When will I see my family and friends in the Netherlands?"

Merel van Dongen: “When will I see my family and friends in the Netherlands?”

Photo: Pro Shots

‘More matches is not the solution’

Miedema calls on FIFA and UEFA to review the playing calendar to prevent players from dropping out with a burnout. For the time being, she finds little response from the directors. In fact, she only plays more matches: in one year she went from 38 to 49 duels for club and country. And then the European Championship has yet to start.

“Eventually everyone wants to play more and more matches, but that is not the right solution. I have also spoken out a number of times about the biennial World Cup. That is not of added value for us as players. We must above all not forget that we are on the our players have to pass. It won’t go well for very long.”

Van Dongen believes that football players should not complain too much. “We also get a lot in return, for example with a European Championship. You are only a footballer once. If you stop, you have enough time to see and speak to people. But it can certainly be tough.”

National coach Mark Parsons emphasizes that the health of the players has always been the starting point in the composition of his program. The players from the European Championship selection arrived in Zeist in different groups. For example, the players of Ajax and FC Twente only registered in the second week of the training camp because they had played the final of the Eredivisie Cup on 5 June.

Parsons: “There are several players who play at the same club, but one needed longer vacation than the other. We gave that space. The players are very responsible and have made their voices heard. Our communication with all clubs is very positive There were no problems at all. In fact, I sometimes urge the players to take even more time.”