Injuries to players in the 2022/23 season cost clubs representing the five strongest national championships in Europe a record amount of €704.9 million. This is almost 30% more than in the 2021/22 season. These findings are contained in a study conducted by British insurance company Howden. The company’s specialists came to the conclusion that the reason for such a sharp increase is the holding of the 2022 World Cup not in the summer, as usual, but in November-December. This led to additional stress on leading players, which could not but lead to injuries.
British insurance group Howden has published a report looking at injuries in European football and their impact on teams' finances. Moreover, only teams representing the top divisions of the five strongest leagues in Europe were taken into account: English, German, Spanish, Italian and French. The conclusions reached by the authors of the report are alarming. According to Howden estimates, club losses from player injuries in the 2022/23 season amounted to a record €704.9 million. This is almost 30% more than in the previous reporting period (€556.6 million). By the way, the report regarding the 2022/21 season also noted an increase in club expenses due to player injuries, but in this case it was the growth rate that caused concern.
It should be noted that Howden, when calculating team losses from player injuries, uses an extremely simple model. The average daily salary of a football player is taken (it is the salary that is taken into account; bonuses and other payments, as well as the clubs’ expenses for treatment and rehabilitation of football players, remain outside the scope of the study) and multiplied by the number of days during which the player was injured. At the same time, such an important factor as the compensation that clubs receive from the International Football Federation (FIFA) for injuries received by football players called up to participate in official matches of national teams remained outside the scope of the study. According to FIFA rules, if a player is injured for more than 28 days, his club will be compensated for the player's salary. The total amount of payments cannot exceed €7.5 million per year. For example, on Sunday during the Euro 2024 qualifying match between the national teams of Spain and Georgia, Barcelona midfielder Gavi suffered a ruptured cruciate ligament in his knee. The recovery period for such injuries is usually six to eight months. That is, Barcelona, according to Mundo Deportivo estimates, can count on compensation from €3.082 million to €4.315 million.
The report notes that the key factor leading to a sharp increase in club losses from player injuries was the holding of the 2022 World Cup in November-December. Let us remind you that traditionally the world championships were held in the summer, but due to the fact that it is very hot in Qatar at this time of year, the dates were shifted. As a result, it turned out that leading football players were forced to play in both national championships and the World Cup almost without a break. It is interesting that the total number of recorded injuries even decreased slightly compared to the previous reporting period - 3985 versus 4006, but at the same time the injuries became more serious on average, which means the recovery time for football players increased. If the players injured in October 2022 recovered on average in 11 days, then those who were injured in January 2023, that is, against the backdrop of fatigue accumulated after the World Cup, spent more than 19 days on treatment. Hence such a significant increase in financial losses. Note that Howden’s findings are quite consistent with data from the International Association of Professional Footballers (FIFPro). She calculated that the leading players in the 2022/23 season were indeed extremely busy. For example, Manchester United player Bruno Fernandes spent 6,666 minutes on the field in 72 matches between September 15, 2022 and September 15, 2023. Of these, 20 belonged to the back-to-back category (this is not about the fact that football players take to the field every day, it’s just that FIFPro believes that football players should have at least five days to rest between games). And, say, Raphael Varane (Manchester United, French national team), although he did not spend as much time on the field as Bruno Fernandes, was able to rest only eight days after the World Cup final, in which the French lost to the Argentines. A number of lower-ranking players were completely forced to return to club work just four days after their team’s departure from the world championship.
If we talk about which league suffered the most financially from player injuries, then the English Premier League (EPL) is the obvious leader - injuries cost it about €280 million. The remaining amount is more or less evenly distributed among the other four leagues. There is nothing surprising in the increased influence of the Winter World Cup on the Premier League, given that the richest football world championship delegated 23.6% of the clubs' roster to the world championship. From the Spanish and German championships, 14.1% and 14.8% of players respectively went to the World Cup. The Italian league sent 10.9% of its players, the French 9.8%.
As a result, many clubs were forced to constantly solve personnel problems throughout the season. For example, Real Madrid recorded 72 cases of injury to football players during the season. For Juventus, this figure is only one injury lower. Well, the most frequently injured football players played in the German championship. The absolute record - 95 injuries - belongs to Borussia Mönchengladbach. True, the losses of this team barely exceeded €6.6 million, while Bayern (84 injuries) lost €41.5 million. This is several times more than that of Real Madrid (€19.3 million ), and is quite comparable to the losses of PSG. The Parisians recorded 56 injuries, but taking into account the high salaries of the club's stars, the losses amounted to €49.4 million. Interestingly, Manchester City, undoubtedly the strongest club in Europe last season, recorded rather modest figures - 40 injuries and about €12 million losses. For comparison, Chelsea's losses with 68 injuries amounted to €40 million.