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Friday, 28 June, 2002, 17:48 GMT 18:48 UK
Houllier wants winter break
England lost to Brazil in the quarter-finals of the World Cup
England crashed out to Brazil in the quarter-finals

Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier has backed calls for a winter break in the Premiership.

England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson and Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger want a three-week pause to allow players time to recuperate.

The gruelling season was widely touted as one of the reasons behind the dismal World Cup performance of defending champions France, whose side had a large Premiership contingent.


I would maintain the English tradition of playing football over the Christmas period
Gerard Houllier

And England's lacklustre display against Brazil was also put down as a match too far for tired players.

"Many people have picked up on the point of players being tired in the World Cup after a long season - and I am in favour of a winter break," Houllier told BBC Sport Online.

"I would maintain the English tradition of playing football over the Christmas period, but then I would have a break of three weeks to allow them to take a rest."

The Premiership last season ran from 17 August to 11 May with some players at the top clubs playing in over 60 games.

Wenger and Eriksson want to see the number of teams in the Premiership reduced to ease the burden.

"I think to try and have less football in the Premiership would be important," said Eriksson.

"I also think having a winter break would be good for the players but I don't know how far away we are from that."

France's Patrick Vieira
France's Vieira played over 60 games for Arsenal

Most other European leagues take time out over Christmas.

German legend Franz Beckebauer, who won the World Cup both as a player and a coach, has also insisted that all of Europe was playing too much football.

"Billions of viewers around the world are switching on television to watch the World Cup and what are they seeing - tired stars," said Beckenbauer.

"All the best players play in Europe and they have to play too many matches. Fifa has to do something. It has to react."

Fifa's chief medical officer Jiri Dvorak agreed with Beckenbauer's assessment.

He confirmed there had been an increase in the number of non-contact injuries, such as strained muscles, when no tackles are involved.

Dvorak said: "Professional footballers are definitely playing too many games."

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25 Jun 02 | Other News
22 Jun 02 | England
14 Jun 02 | Other News
13 Jun 02 | France
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