South Korean superstar Son Heung-min has clocked up 223,000 kilometers, spending 300 hours on planes in the past three seasons.
The FIFpro announced its report that the maximum number of games that a player can participate without getting exhausted and hurt is 55 in a season, but Son played 57 games a season on average until the 2020-2021 season. Comparing Son’s record with another Tottenham player Harry Kane, Son played in 13 more games than Kane (159 games) and travelled 223,637 kilometers by air, which is 137,370 kilometers more than Kane. Son spent 300 hours on planes, more than twice longer than the hours spent on planes by Kane (123 hours). While 46.9% of footballers crossed two time zones to play in distant matches, Son has made 204 time zone crosses.
FIFpro pointed out that Asian footballers could become more tired compared to European footballers when they play for the national team. Japanese national team footballer Maya Yoshida, who plays in Italy, said that Asian footballers take longer trips after they play in international matches and that they are being exhausted. “I am not sure whether FIFA or AFC are playing a role with regard to this matter,” said Yoshida.
“We are obliged to to protect players” said General Secretary Jonas Baer-Hoffmaaan of FIFpro. “The system needs to be overhauled to reduce the distance of trips and number of games so that footballers are not overworked.”
“We will voice out loud with FIFpro to make sure that footballers are guaranteed sufficient number of recovery days between FIFA and AFC-sponsored international matches,” General Secretary Kim Hoon-ki of the Korea Pro-Footballers Federation.