Thibaut Courtois Criticises UEFA for Money Making Nations League Third Place Play Off

As Thibaut Courtois criticises UEFA for its ‘money game’ Nations League third-place final, it raises wider condemnation of the excessive amount of games that footballers must cover over a season.

Thibaut Courtois Criticises UEFA and FIFA for Ridiculous Nations League Third Place Play Off

Money Making Games Pointless

The Belgium goalkeeper was not afraid to voice his opinions on the third-place playoff, where his country lost 2-1 against Italy.

He said: “This game is just a money game and we have to be honest about it.”

“We just play it because for UEFA it’s extra money.”

In this revealing interview in the build-up to the match, Courtois pointed out the hypocrisy of UEFA, who were shocked to the core at the Super League development and yet were more than happy to create more and more games through their own tournaments.

The main issue is that players aren’t getting enough rest.

Courtois said: “It’s a bad thing that players are not spoken about. And now you hear about a European Championship and a World Cup every year, when will we get a rest? Never.”

FIFPro Seek Extra Protection for Burn Out Players

FIFPro, or the Fédération Internationale des Associations de Footballeurs Professionnels, is the worldwide body for over 65,000 professional footballers. Their latest report calls for more to be done to protect footballers against playing too often. You can read our full breakdown of the report here.

The report focuses on ‘Critical Zone’ appearances, which means:  “when a player plays at least 45 minutes in back-to-back matches and they did not have at least five days of rest and recovery between the two appearances. They also note that travel and shortened off-season and on-season breaks constitute to the critical zone.”

Due to the increased number of matches, thanks to new tournaments such as the Nations League, players are now playing a lot more matches in this Critical Zone. As a result, they are exposing themselves to injury and burnout.

Even Neymar has suggested that his last major tournament could be the Qatar World Cup 2022. He ‘sees’ this as his last World Cup as he is worried that he doesn’t have the “strength of mind to deal with football anymore.”

Modern football is ever-evolving to appeal to the consumer as some kind of product, rather than a sport. Whether it is changes to the rules within the match, or increasing fixtures by bringing in the Nations League, the game is changing for the worse, at least for the players. Of course, they are well rewarded for their congested fixture schedules, but when will this come at a cost to their performances on the pitch? In the case of Neymar’s, it may simply be that players choose to retire from international duty earlier. That way they could concentrate their energy on domestic football.

Harry Kane’s Workload

It is crazy to see how many matches in a season the likes of Harry Kane rack up without any real rest. COVID has compounded this to an extent, with major international tournaments and domestic schedules still catching up from the enforced break. But for many of the top-performing players, they can easily rack up around 50 matches just for their domestic clubs alone.

This was the case for Kane, who made 49 appearances for Spurs in all competitions, plus another 19 caps for England during the international breaks and the summer. Kane is a player that definitely suffers from the workload his club and country put on his shoulders each season.

Each season he will get sidelined by an injury, often an ankle ailment. He’ll seem to recover pretty quickly, perhaps rushed back a bit too soon. This will be evident in a run of poor form, where he looks a bit sluggish. And yet his managers will keep on selecting him because even an injured Kane knows where the goal is. Some of the fault lies in Spurs and England not having enough cover or the bravery to give Kane a proper rest, admittedly.

But, tides are turning. FIFPro’s report, coupled with Courtois’ criticism shows that players are not happy with playing too many matches. There is more than enough drama in a season with three domestic titles plus European competitions without extra international matches wedged into tight schedules.

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