Vivianne Miedema has admitted that her recent leave of absence from Arsenal was needed to contend with the congested fixture schedule following Euro 2022.
Miedema was granted time away from the club at the beginning of November to ‘rest and recharge’. She missed Arsenal’s WSL victory over Leicester and the Netherlands’ international camp, and marked her return to the starting XI with a goal on Thursday evening as the Gunners drew with Juventus.
The forward was one of a number of players who featured as the Euros and was then quickly back into club action, with Arsenal’s season starting earlier than others as they had to go through Champions League qualification.
Miedema experienced a particularly exhausting European Championships, missing the Netherlands’ final two group matches after testing positive for Covid-19 and being forced to self-isolate for 10 days. She was then back in the thick of the action once she tested negative, playing 120 minutes during her side’s quarter final loss to France.
“At the beginning of this month I deliberately took a step back,” the Netherlands international explained in her column for Dutch newspaper AD. “I felt that my body and mind were ready for a rest.
“For people who do not work in top sport, that will sound strange. People who do work in our world will understand it better, but many players don’t feel that freedom to stand up for themselves or just want to continue in their tunnel.
“I spent a large part of the European Championship last summer in my hotel room with Covid-19. After that, the preparation for the season started almost immediately. I went through in one go and I paid the price for that. I had to get out and went to Australia in those two weeks.”
Miedema’s comments follow concerns expressed by Jonas Eidevall and Emma Hayes about the manner in which domestic and international fixtures are packed into the footballing calendar amid a swathe of long term injuries in the women’s game.
Arsenal’s Beth Mead suffered an ACL tear against Manchester United on Sunday and is one of an assortment of high profile players sidelined with that very injury, alongside the likes of Alexia Putellas, Marie-Antoinette Katoto and Giulia Gwinn, to name just a few.
“I see a worrying pattern,” Miedema continued. “The playing calendar for both the women and the men is simply too full. Actually, it’s just a shame. We are in a world that goes on and on and there are few players who say anything about it. I do.
“I can already envisage some of the reactions to this column, you know: ‘We have the best profession in the world, we earn a lot of money and we don’t have to complain. Just play football‘.”