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More than 80% of EFL players feel not enough done to keep them safe on pitch

More than 80% of EFL players feel not enough is being done to keep them safe from physical harm and discrimination on the pitch, while more than half are opposed to new rules on added time.

In a survey of 100 players in the Championship, League One and League Two by the Professional Footballers’ Association over the October international break, more than 50% said they had been part of a game where a pitch invasion had resulted in a player being attacked or harassed.

Less than 20% felt enough was being done to identify those responsible for pitch invasions, harassment of players and discriminatory chanting.

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Almost 60% said they did not support new rules on added time introduced at the start of this season. Referees worldwide have been asked by the game’s lawmakers to more accurately measure the time lost to stoppages such as goal celebrations, injuries, substitutions and VAR checks, after the approach was trialled at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Nearly 60% of the EFL players also said they believed the longer games resulting from the new rules were causing more injuries. The survey found almost 75% felt players were not given a proper break between seasons, with almost 60% feeling that a lack of rest and recovery time was leading to more injuries.

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The survey respondents were split almost 50-50 on whether VAR should be introduced into the EFL. It is understood 47 respondents were in favour, 46 against and the remaining seven unsure. Almost a third did not support the use of VAR at all, and although nearly 60% said they broadly supported its use, they felt significant improvements were needed.

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The PFA will use the survey results to highlight existing protections and rights that its members may not be aware of. On lack of rest and recovery time, for instance, the PFA has highlighted that in the men’s standard contract, negotiated by the union, players are entitled to five weeks of paid holiday per year.