At least five European teams did not have a psychologist at the World Cup

Freepik/@ lunail

Original article (in Serbian) was published on 11/12/2022

At the beginning of December, RTS published an interview on its web portal with psychologist Sasa Sredanovic discussing her work, football, but also the fact that – according to the interviewee – “Serbia is the only European team without a psychologist at the World Cup”. Tragac contacted the media representatives of the European selections from the current football championship: in five of the seven responses received, we received confirmation that the team does not have a single psychologist in the professional team.

At this year’s World Cup, 13 of the 32 national teams came from Europe. In addition to the Serbian national team, there are also Croatia, Belgium, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Holland, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and Wales. For all these teams, psychologist Sasa Sredanovic says in an interview that they have a psychologist at the World Cup: “they have two psychologists in the team, some even three: for the players in the attack, then for those in the middle row and for the defenders, because they don’t think all the players are the same”, states RTS web portal. It turns out that this assessment is far from the truth.

With this analysis, the editorial office of FakeNews Tragac does not want to diminish the importance of psychological counselling but only to react to incorrect data, as well as the interpretations that followed.

Twice “yes” and five times “no”

Our newsroom first tried to check the information on the official internet presentations of the association by reviewing the mentioned members of the professional staff. When we realised that, in most cases, we needed help finding information about the engaged psychologists, we contacted the media representatives of the teams directly. Until the conclusion of this text, we received seven official responses, five of which stated that there was no psychologist in the team.

“At the World Championship in Qatar, we had a wellness coach in the coaching staff, but not a real psychologist”, explains Stefan van Luk, press and media officer of the Belgian team. On the other hand, Adrian Arnold, director of corporate communications of the Swiss team, which defeated Serbia in the match of the group stage and kicked them out of the competition, says that “many Swiss players work with psychologists during the World Cup, but there is no permanent psychologist in the national team”.

In addition to Belgium and Switzerland, we received confirmation from the national teams of Croatia, Poland and the Netherlands that they do not have a psychologist in the team in Qatar. On the other hand, the German and English national teams responded that there is one psychologist on their professional staff. This is certainly not a definitive list, since we have not received an answer from some federations. Among them is France, the current champion, which also has no psychologist on the official list of experts and staff.

The interview with RTS was also shared by web portals N1, 021, K1, Danas, Direktno, Blic zena, Okvir and Serbian times

When incorrect information “naturalises”

The elimination of the Serbian national team from the World Cup was discussed in the program “Probudi se”, broadcast this week on Nova S television, and the guests were sports psychologist Vladimir Borkovic and physiotherapist Milan Ilic. At the show’s beginning, the host said that “the news that we are the only national team without a psychologist at the World Cup went off like a bomb” and asked psychologist Vladimir Borkovic how worrying it was. Borkovic said that he thinks “it’s news” that we are the only European team without a sports psychologist. On the Nova web portal, the interlocutor was not adequately quoted: it was stated that Borkovic himself said that we were the only European national team without a psychologist.
On the web portal, in the author’s text dedicated to Serbia’s elimination from the World Cup, one of the observations also mentions that “Serbia was the only European selection without a psychologist in the professional team”.

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