Netherlands captain Virgil van Dijk was the latest footballer to voice their frustration at the exhausting playing schedule for the 2023/24 season. With the international breaks ongoing, players like Van Dijk get no reprieve due to their duty for the national teams.
Van Dijk spoke of his anger to be playing so many games for Liverpool and then for the Dutch too. He said: “In England we believe that the calendars are too demanding. The players are paid well, but this should never be to the detriment of our health. We keep having to play more and more games. We players should start saying something, contribute to a solution.”
Soon after this, the Dutch defender was confronted by a journalist. The reporter asked him if he would be willing to surrender 10% of his yearly salary to play fewer games. Van Dijk initially said ‘no’ before retorting to ‘yes’ when the journalist asked if he’d do for the betterment of his health.
Upon being further pressed on why he disagreed with the question before agreeing, he explained: “Because it shouldn’t depend on my salary? And all the extra competitions? The Nations League? The money of that doesn’t go to my salary.”
Interestingly, the Dutch journalist refused to back down. The reporter stated that ‘you’d get a bonus if you win it (Nations League), to which Van Dijk shut them down by saying ‘these bonuses are not a guarantee’.
In reality, these footballers hardly get paid to play for their national team. They are only guaranteed ‘bonuses’ if able to help their nations win something.
For example, Netherlands’ footballers were promised to receive €425,000 each if they won the 2022 World Cup. Van Dijk, of course, isn’t really in need of money as he earns an impressive £11.4 million salary at Liverpool.
But his views on this matter are completely logical because if footballers don’t complain about the schedule, the organizers will pile up even more matches for them to play and risk serious injuries on a more frequent basis going forward.