Burnley and New Zealand striker Chris Wood condemns World Cup scheduling after being thrown into a potential club v country tug-of-war!

Burnley striker Chris Wood was rather scathing of the Oceanian World Cup qualifying schedule and has called for an intervention from FIFA.

By Dan Black
Friday, 10th December 2021, 11:10 am
Updated Friday, 10th December 2021, 11:12 am
Chris Wood of Burnley pulls the shirt of Jamaal Lascelles of Newcastle United during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Burnley at St. James Park on December 04, 2021 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.
Chris Wood of Burnley pulls the shirt of Jamaal Lascelles of Newcastle United during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Burnley at St. James Park on December 04, 2021 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

The New Zealand forward will be thrust between a rock and a hard place when a likely club v country tug-of-war ensues in the New Year.

The 30-year-old, who has netted double figures for Sean Dyche' s side in four successive seasons, is in a quandary, owing to the magnitude of fixtures on both sides of the coin, and it isn't a position he appreciates being pushed in to.

"It is a tough one thinking about it, I think it is very poor that FIFA have allowed internationals, especially World Cup qualifiers, to be outside the international window," he said.

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Chris Wood #9 of Team New Zealand runs with the ball whilst under pressure from Virgil Ghita #6 of Team Romania during the Men's First Round Group B match between Romania and New Zealand on day five of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Sapporo Dome on July 28, 2021 in Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan.

"I think it is ridiculous because as a squad we won’t be able to get some of our best players there and if not we are looking at up to 16 players who won’t be able to get there for the first couple of games if that is the case.

"They have put us in a very sticky position.

"I would expect FIFA to look at it more in depth and come up with a solution around it.

"It is not a great format as we speak, hopefully they can change it because player welfare isn’t right if you are making people play five games in 13 days.

"Also, you are making players either miss club games or miss internationals that are key World Cup qualifiers. I think they have structured it extremely wrong and hopefully they are looking at changing it."

Games for the Oceania qualifying tournament in Qatar, which will take in three round robin group games, before a potential semi-final and final, will take place over a 15-day period.

However, the international window only runs between March 21st and March 29th, meaning the All Whites will play two World Cup qualifying games outside those dates.

And that will almost certainly coincide with a make-or-break period of the campaign for the Clarets, with games against Brentford (A) and Southampton (H) penned in around that time.

Clubs are required to release players during the window, but are not mandated to do so outside — OFC applied to FIFA for an eight-day extension to the window, to take in most of qualifying, but it is believed European clubs refused to agree to that.

That will ultimately impact on Wood and many of his international team-mates. Now he's called for action from all parties, including the Oceania Football Confederation, to help rfind a solution. He concluded: "I don’t think FIFA should have ever allowed us to be in this situation, they should be playing it during normal windows.

"They should not be allowing the competition to be extended outside the window because it could take away a lot of our team and a lot of our players which in theory takes away the competition and who is the best from OFC going to the World Cup.

"If you take our away our strongest players you could end up with a different champion or a different way.

"That is the problem and that is where OFC [Oceania Football Confederation] have not been favourable to us, they have done what is best for them and what is voted on and of course all the teams are going to vote for this format because it limits and restricts us.

"We have a full team of professional players who have to stick by official FIFA rules and guidelines of international breaks.

"They have already looked at it and asked and spoke to OFC before the announcement came out but OFC have decided to go ahead with it. I think FIFA need to have a proper look at it and maybe take it out of OFC’s hands."