Sarina Wiegman Leah Williamson Vivianne Miedema compositeGetty/GOAL

'It's a disgrace' - England boss Sarina Wiegman is right! FIFA and UEFA must listen to Leah Williamson, Vivianne Miedema and more as calls to fix crazy women's football calendar grow

England’s Lionesses thought they were going to get a summer off this year. After failing to reach the UEFA Women’s Nations League finals, their chances of qualifying for the Olympic women’s football tournament were over. It was devastating but there was a silver lining. Or so they thought.

Instead, England will play qualifiers for the 2025 European Championships in June, after most European leagues have concluded. Their two Barcelona players, Keira Walsh and Lucy Bronze, will then return to Spain to finish the Liga F season before the Lionesses regroup for further qualifiers in July. After that, there will hopefully be time for a short rest before pre-season training begins and the 2024/25 campaign follows.

“To be honest, we didn't expect it,” England and Bayern Munich midfielder Georgia Stanway said this week of playing through the summer. “I think when we didn't qualify for the Olympics, we thought, 'Oh, the perfect opportunity to have a summer off’. This will be my actual first summer that I'll actually be able to have some time, with youth tournaments and senior tournaments [having occupied all previous]. But we realised that it's not quite as simple as that.”

It's been a talking point around the England camp this week but this is a problem all across Europe. It’s even more significant for those nations competing in the Olympic Games, which has a senior tournament for the women as opposed to the Under-23 event on the men’s side, as that short break after the July qualifiers doesn’t exist. Instead, they go straight into a relentless tournament schedule and almost immediately then into preparations for the new season.

But while the schedule for Euro 2025 qualifiers has highlighted calendar issues in the women’s game on one continent, this is a worldwide problem. The sport has grown immeasurably over the last few years and so the demand on the athletes has, too.

However, the same people looking to capitalise on the interest in the women’s game by expanding existing and introducing new competitions need to ensure they look after those who are most directly impacted. Football is nothing without players and, as the ACL crisis in the women’s game shows, they are being run into the ground.

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