Qatar 2022: the big extra times don’t help the players

The big extra times being given by referees at the World Cup in Qatar are not good for the players. National team champions should have been trained for this, instead the new method was improvised. Corriere della Sera writes this in a piece by Paolo Casarin, who interviews Alberto Cei, professor of psychology at the University of Tor Vergata and S. Raffaele in Rome. Cei explains it very clearly: players are used to playing within a certain time frame. The uncertainty about recovery, the lengthening of playing time, puts a strain on their physical and mental resilience. It’s like a runner training to run 5,000 meters and then finding out that he has to cover twice as much. Footballers, in short, should have been prepared for the novelty with specific training.

“The main players in games are the footballers, and in them the certainty of the start and end of the game determines, over the years, the construction of a mentality that enables them to be ready for the referee’s whistle. The mental schemes of the footballers include not only “what to do” but also “when to do” within a defined time period of 90 minutes to which are added, for many years, about 5 minutes of recovery time. Everything in the lives of soccer players is organized to enable them to express themselves at their best during this time period, which is experienced with great mental stress in important matches such as those of a World Cup. The abnormal lengthening of the recovery time that has never been experienced in the leagues puts a strain on the physical and mental resilience of teams. It is as if a runner trained to run the 5,000 discovers at the World Cup that the distance has been lengthened by 1,000 meters. Whatever the reason for introducing it, it had to be agreed upon with those who produce the performance, the soccer players, who should have had time to train to play with this new procedure.”

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