Sarina Wiegman is caught in a club v country tussle after naming her World Cup squad, with the England manager fearing her plans to get the players together in less than three weeks could be blocked.
Wiegman wants to begin preparations on 19 June and said clubs had been alerted to this in November. But the European Club Association is understood to be united behind a deal it reached with Fifa this month for a release timeframe of 23-29 June. The Football Association is searching for a solution with clubs.
Wiegman revealed England set their call-up date in November using expertise and experience regarding rest, recovery and preparation. She said they had agreed the plan with the captains’ group, then with the wider squad and had spoken to clubs.
“It’s frustrating because we have all our plans and we thought we were all set,” Wiegman said. “And then like a month ago, all of a sudden things change. We didn’t expect that – it is so late. I do understand, it’s about the calendar. It’s really hard.”
She described talks as “very constructive” but “not finalised” and emphasised that any delay to her proposed start would be significant with England needing to go to the tournament at their “highest levels”. The World Cup begins on 20 July and England’s first game, against Haiti, comes two days later.
In England’s 23-player squad only Barcelona’s Lucy Bronze and Brighton’s Katie Robinson are with clubs that are not ECA members. Germany also confirmed their squad on Wednesday and their manager, Martina Voss-Tecklenburg, said Bayern Munich, where England’s Georgia Stanway plays, would not release anyone before 23 June.
The ECA struck its deal after raising concerns players were being called up too early and put at risk. The mandatory Fifa release date is 10 July but that was widely acknowledged as too late, particularly for a tournament in Australia and New Zealand. “I still hope we can negotiate,” Wiegman said. “At this point it’s hard but what we’re trying.”
The World Cup final is on 20 August and the WSL begins again on 29 September. Before that, though, Arsenal face a Champions League qualifier on 6 September and there is an international window from 18-26 September.
“After the tournament sometimes it’s hard to get the rest because competitive games start again,” Wiegman added. “So that’s why we have to collaborate and talk to each other to try to solve that.”
She believes more than two weeks’ rest before the World Cup would not be “good preparation”, and England players are due to work on individual programmes from 12 June. Wiegman wants the squad to prepare at St George’s Park from 19 June and fly to Australia on 5 July.
“We’re going to the other side of the world – that takes a couple of days too,” she said. “It’s two days for travelling; you can’t start training straight away because you first have to do the jet lag. So we really need that time to get prepared. I just hope that we keep going with the good conversations and we resolve this.”
The UK government has joined France, Germany, Italy and Spain in calling for Fifa to reach an agreement with their broadcasters over televising the World Cup amid fears of a blackout. At the start of May Fifa said broadcasters there had to improve “unacceptable” offers for the rights or accept the tournament would not be available on TV in those countries.