Real Madrid forward Kosovare Asllani has said there is an “unhealthy and dangerous environment” around the club’s women’s team, alleging the squad have been “constantly pushed to play injured.”
The Sweden international spoke at a news conference while at her national team training camp on Thursday as she prepares to take part in Euro 2022 in England next month.
Asllani, who joined Madrid in 2019 as the women’s team’s first star-signing and was named player of the season in 2020-21 after scoring 16 league goals, is leaving the club this month when her contract expires.
“I think there is a culture at the club which is unhealthy for players to be in,” Asllani said. “I have almost been forced to play injured. The management team has not listened to the medical team. It has become a very unhealthy and dangerous environment.”
ESPN have approached Madrid for comment.
Asllani, 32, played for Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain before moving to Madrid in July 2019, when the women’s team was still known as CD Tacon before the completion of its merger with Madrid a year later.
She fired them to a second-placed finish behind Barcelona in 2021, before an injury-disrupted 2021-22 saw her contribute just three league goals in 17 appearances.
“I have done a lot for the club from the beginning and I have seen that the club has not treated players well over the years,” she added.
“I think it’s important for me to talk, since no-one else has. I have tried to make changes, but in the end, the environment created there is one of refusing to listen to the medical team and the players.”
“It is no coincidence that I was injured there and had a setback, as you are constantly pushed to play injured. It is not a healthy environment… I care so much about the club, but I feel that it is in the wrong hands.”
Last season, sources told ESPN that the relationship between Madrid’s squad and then coach David Aznar had broken down, with criticism of his management style and claims that excessive preseason training had increased the players’ risk of injury.
Aznar was fired in November 2021 and replaced by Alberto Toril, who took Madrid to third place in the league as well as the Champions League quarterfinals, where they lost 8-3 on aggregate to Barcelona.
“I might have left last summer, but I gave it one last chance,” Asllani said.
“I’ve been a big part of the club’s history, but unfortunately it’s an environment that is not healthy, and it’s not just me. There are an incredible number of players who have had to go through a lot, which is not right at a top club… I think it’s an environment created by just wanting results and seeing players as products.”