Arsenal ace Miedema reiterates call for player protection and urges reconsideration of number of Fifa windows in women’s football

VIVIANNE MIEDEMA hopes coaches will encourage their players to take breaks after their November absence from play.

And the all-time WSL top scorer has urged Fifa and Uefa to listen to concerns about player welfare as a number of top pros have been sidelined this season through injury.

Vivianne Miedema says she is back in November after her short break

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Vivianne Miedema says she returned “physically much fitter” after her short break in NovemberPhoto credit: Getty
The Arsenal star scored after returning to action for the Gunners against Juventus and Everton

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The Arsenal star scored after returning to action for the Gunners against Juventus and EvertonPhoto credit: Getty

Miedema, 26, who made 30 appearances for the Gunners last season and won nine caps for her country this year, missed Arsenal’s defeat and two games in the Netherlands.

And the Gunners ace believes her short stint after contracting Covid during the Euros has seen her return “a lot more physically fit”.

Miedema, who plays Juventus with her team in the Emirates in the Champions League on Wednesday, said: “I think a lot of people probably thought my time off would just mean I’d go on holiday and not train and just get away from football .

“But I actually took a break, went to the other end of the world, but still trained every day.

“I didn’t have any pre-season this summer after my Covid illness, so I’ve used that time to actually get in shape and that’s the biggest difference I’m feeling on the pitch right now.

“I feel a lot more physically fit, I think you can see that in the games, and I think when I’m physically fit then the game comes easy for me again.

“You’ve seen that in the last two games and I hope to be able to do that for at least the next four games until Christmas.”

Miedema is among a number of influential WSL figures who have raised concerns about the physical demands placed on players in recent seasons due to a busy domestic and international schedule.

Last month, the forward used her column in Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad to urge football authorities to take into account players’ “physical strain” amid a spate of injuries suffered by WSL aces.

Beth Mead, Lina Hurtig and Gunners skipper Kim Little are among her clubmates struggling with injuries.

Miedema’s call came weeks after she was granted time off to “rest and recharge.”

And the player scored against Juve in the Champions League on November 24, having returned to the game five days earlier during Arsenal’s 3-2 loss to Manchester United.

Leah Williamson returned to WSL for Arsenal ahead of their second clash in the Champions League group stage against Juventus

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Leah Williamson returned to WSL for Arsenal ahead of their second clash in the Champions League group stage against JuventusPhoto credit: Getty

When asked if players should feel free to ask for a time-out, Miedema said: “It’s something a lot of younger players, and even the older ones too, probably wouldn’t ask for themselves.

“I think coaches in national teams and club football also need to be a little more aware of that and probably stimulate it themselves at times

“But I hope that when I’ve taken the time off it’s done some players well, that they feel confident enough to actually ask for that break and aren’t ashamed of needing it

“Like I’ve said so many times, it’s been so non-stop over the last few years that at some point you just have to switch off.

“For some people that might mean two weeks, for others maybe longer.

“I just hope they feel safe enough to ask for that time off.”

When asked what measures she would like to see in terms of player welfare and the busy fixture schedule, Miedema added: “It’s quite difficult because at the end of the day, as a player, you want to play in the big tournament that you want to play one Euro, you want to play in a World Cup.

“The biggest difference in international football with us is that we have more windows than the men within the season.

“We also played the Olympics with senior teams instead of under-23s and that is definitely something for Fifa, Fifpro and Uefa to think about.

Joe Montemurro wants to lead his Juve aces to victory against his former club in the Champions League

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Joe Montemurro wants to lead his Juve aces to victory against his former club in the Champions LeaguePhoto credit: Getty

“If we’re going to make the calendars similar then let’s not have six FIFA windows (international) when the men only have four or five a year.

“I think it’s also because we (in women’s football) don’t have that many players in our squad.”

Arsenal’s clash with Juve, coached by former Gunners boss Joe Montemurro, could bring defenders Leah Williamson and Rafaelle Souza back to European action.

The duo could make their first Champions appearance since the Gunners lost away to Ajax in September.

Speaking of her return, Miedema added: “We missed her qualities on the pitch.

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“But I think as a team, and especially when you have a lot of injuries, you stick together. You try to help each other.

“The moment the players come back, it just lifts the whole atmosphere in the team when the girls are back on the pitch. That’s something to be happy about.”

https://www.the-sun.com/sport/6857943/vivianne-miedema-arsenal-player-protection/ Arsenal ace Miedema reiterates call for player protection and urges reconsideration of number of Fifa windows in women’s football

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