Arsene Wenger believes advances in technology have aided player welfare enough to cope with football’s growing calendar.
From 2025, the Club World Cup will expand to a 32-team summer competition, with Chelsea and Manchester City among the teams already guaranteed a spot in the finals in the United States.
It is the latest move that has seen more fixtures added to an already stacked calendar, with City boss Pep Guardiola the most recent manager to speak out against the lack of recovery time for players.
Wenger, now FIFA’s chief of global football development, was another to voice such concerns when he was in charge at Arsenal.
Now though, his opinion has changed due to what he feels is a better understanding of how to take care of players between games – and even suggested VAR has played a part.
“I accept that the football calendar is a busy one,” he said at a press conference in Saudi Arabia during the current Club World Cup.
“But this is a competition that is going to take place every four years and of course the rest period during the competition and afterwards has to be respected.
“We see players receiving world awards, the likes of (Lionel) Messi, (Cristiano) Ronaldo, (Karim) Benzema, all over the age of 35. And it is not unusual to see international careers lasting over 20 years.
“Not so long ago, that was not possible. The welfare of the players in the last 20 years has increased dramatically when you look at injury prevention, recovery work, nutrition and advances in medical technology.
“Also VAR has helped with the protection of players, as players know they cannot escape from making bad tackles that cause injury.”
Wenger believes the new-look Club World Cup will also help grow the sport outside of Europe.
“In Europe we are lucky, but it’s important that we make football really global and this creates a chance for other clubs to progress,” he added.
“It will give more opportunities to more players all over the world to compete at the highest level.”