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FIFA’s medical chief has warned that leading players face burn-out unless the number of games they play is reduced.

Professor Jiri Dvorak says there is a risk of the world’s greatest players not being on view in the biggest tournament.

France’s Zinedine Zidane and Portugal’s Luis Figo were among those whose appearances at last summer’s World Cup were restricted by injury.

Arsenal’s French midfielder Patrick Vieira has complained about fatigue, just weeks into the new season and Dvorak argues that such burnout is inevitable given the increasing demands on players.

“Some players at the top clubs in the biggest countries in Europe play 70 games per season,” said Dvorak.

‘We have realised the magnitude of the problem of injuries and the related cost of players’ absences.

“There are rules about the maximum number of hours per day you can drive a truck, but there are no rules for footballers.

“Guidelines on the number of games that players may play in a season would benefit them by keeping them as healthy as possible,” Dvorak told the Observer newspaper.

UEFA has responded to fears over the players’ workload by amending the format of the Champions League.

UEFA Spokesman Mike Lee said: “Stress on players is one reason we have reduced the number of Champions League games from next season.

“Attention does need to be paid to these problems.

“But any proposals for a set number of games would have to be thoroughly discussed and debated.

“In Korea and Japan we saw that some of the players the world wants to see couldn’t play.”

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