Qatar World Cup means players are being treated 'like cattle', says former England player Carragher

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Jamie Carragher has accused FIFA of putting players in a "disgusting" position by planting the Qatar World Cup slap bang in the middle of the club season.

For most players involved, the tournament will be taking place while their domestic leagues are put on hold, after it was decided Qatar would not be able to host in the usual June-July time slot, due to its climate.

It means the leading lights of the game are playing important club games just days before the opening matches of the World Cup, knowing an injury, even at a minor level, could scupper hopes of being involved.

Former Liverpool and England defender Carragher said a World Cup in November and December is "absurd" and "has succeeded in compromising every major football competition this season, including their own showpiece event".

He said there would "almost be a perverse sense of justice" if stars of the game suffer minor injury blows in the coming weeks that rule them out of the World Cup, due to the tournament's "indecent timing".

But Carragher suspects those that pushed for Qatar to host would not feel responsible, saying: "To them, elite footballers are like cattle. They get well paid and should get on with it, regardless of the psychological and physical consequences."

Carragher pointed to the example of Raphael Varane coming off in tears for Manchester United against Chelsea last month, putting his France prospects in doubt.

He wrote in the Telegraph: "It is disgusting that players are being put in such a position, and they are at their most vulnerable right now as they are expected to go full throttle in the final weeks before joining their national team.

"In normal circumstances, the squads would already be at the pre-tournament training camp, the fine-tuning under way before the opening ceremony."

Carragher added: "The decisions at the top have materially enhanced the risk of injuries. That was inevitable when the World Cup was arranged in mid-season. Everyone with even the slightest understanding of the demands upon a top-level footballer knew that."

The 44-year-old Carragher spent a decade in and around the England squad, at a time when John Terry and Rio Ferdinand were usually ahead of him in the pecking order.

He still won 38 caps and went to the 2006 and 2010 World Cups, and believes the upcoming tournament taking place in Qatar casts shame on the game.

Carragher argues football's authorities made a major error by voting to give the World Cup to a country with a widely criticised human rights record. Critics have pointed to Qatar's treatment of LGBTQ+ people, and the death of many migrant workers on construction sites ahead of the tournament.

"Qatar must be the tipping point," Carragher added. "This can never happen again and there are already signs of professional players mobilising to ensure it never will. FIFA and other national bodies must be forced to act as well as listen.

"The 2022 World Cup symbolises FIFA's ultimate power. They pushed ahead, ripping up the football calendar knowing nothing could stop them."