Germany's Khedira says busy schedule a strain for players
BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany and Juventus midfielder Sami Khedira said on Thursday that soccer's busy playing schedule was challenging its top professionals both physically and mentally.
Khedira, preparing with the world champions for a match against minnows San Marino on Friday, said he was happy to play for the German national team but the "extremely full" schedule of international matches was an issue that should be discussed.
After the San Marino match, the Germans travel to Milan to face Italy in a friendly international on Tuesday.
Khedira spoke with journalists at training in Rimini, Italy who asked about comments by Bayern Munich CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge that the frequent league breaks to accommodate international matches were "catastrophic".
Players regularly complain about the competing pressures on their time created by the scheduling of national and club matches.
"It's an issue that there are many matches and that they need to be somehow scheduled - luckily I'm not an administrator," Khedira said.
"I enjoy the games (with the national team) but I know the schedule is extremely full. Mentally and physically it's hard to have to deliver every three days. It is an issue that we can discuss," said the midfielder.
That did not blur his focus at training, however, even though Germany, World Cup winners in 2014, are ranked second in the world while San Marino is way back at the 201st spot in the global rankings.
"It's a qualifier and we're taking it seriously. We are not here out of sheer fun," he said. "But if we are here, we have to enjoy it and I do."
Khedira has played 16 matches in all competitions so far this season, after another long campaign last season that ended with Germany's Euro 2016 semi-final loss in July.
Last season, he sustained more than half a dozen injuries that ruled him out of action for a total of almost five months.
Rummenigge, who often clashes with German FA officials over the scheduling of international matches, criticised the soccer calendar again last week.
"I think the entire calendar is catastrophic because it creates constant breaks in club football," he said.
"Every time we get some rhythm in the Bundesliga, there is a break. It is not about fewer games. I am not that naive but (world soccer's governing body) FIFA would be wise to clean up the calendar."
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Tom Heneghan)