Courtois: Players not robots, we need rest

Belgium and Real Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois has launched a scathing criticism of UEFA and FIFA for scheduling more and more matches at the expense of player welfare.

Courtois hit out at the growing football calendar after his side’s 2-1 defeat by Italy in the UEFA Nations’ League third-place play-off on Sunday, labelling the match, in which both teams rotated their squads, a “money game”.

“We are not robots. It’s just more and more games and less rest for us and nobody cares about us. When will we get a rest? Never,” Courtois said.

The football calendar has been squeezed in the last 18 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the Champions League and many of the continent’s top leagues taking place in shorter spaces of time but with the same amount of matches.

The European Championship and Copa America were both held at the end of the gruelling season and there is to be no let up in the near future.

Next year’s World Cup takes place between November and December — in the middle of the club season — while the Nations League finals will be held in June 2023.

FIFA, meanwhile, wishes to hold an expanded Club World Cup and its head of Global Football Development, former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, has outlined proposals for a biennial World Cup.

“Next year we have a World Cup in November, we have to play maybe until the latter stages of June again. We will get injured,” added Courtois.

“So in the end top players will get injured and injured and injured. It’s something that should be much better and much more taken care of.”

UEFA has opposed the plan for more frequent World Cups and the proposed European Super League, but Courtois said the European organising body was not interested in player welfare either as they too keep adding to the fixture calendar.

“They are against Super League but they just do the same, they put extra games. They made an extra trophy, (Europa Conference League). It is always the same,” added the Belgian.

“They can be angry about other teams wanting a Super League but they don’t care about the players, they just care about their pockets.”

UEFA did not immediately respond to comments from Courtois.

The Nations League was launched in 2018 with the aim of offering more competitive matches for the continent’s teams instead of international friendlies.

The Europa Conference League, which began this season, was created to increase the number of teams of UEFA member nations playing into the later stages of European competition.

News Viber