3:25 AM ET
Thibaut Courtois has hit out at football’s governing bodies, saying “nobody cares about the players” who are being treated like “robots” in a packed football calendar.
The Real Madrid goalkeeper played for Belgium in both of their Nations League finals matches in Turin, Italy, during this international break.
– Marcotti: Star players are right — burnout solution is needed
– Why Mbappe’s ‘offside’ winning goal was allowed to stand
– Don’t have ESPN? Get instant access
After losing 2-1 to Italy in the third-place playoff on Sunday (stream the replay on ESPN+ in the U.S.), Courtois was fiercely critical of the competition — and its organisers UEFA — in his postmatch interview.
“It’s just a money game, and we have to be honest about it,” Courtois said. “For UEFA, it’s extra money and it’s an extra game because it’s on TV. Of course everyone wants to play, but look at how much both teams changed.
“If the teams had been in the final, there would have been other players playing. This just shows that we play too many games.”
Thibaut Courtois has criticised the football authorities for not caring about players’ welfare. Photo by Sportinfoto/DeFodi Images via Getty Images
Key players Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku were both absent for Belgium on Sunday with concerns over muscular problems, after featuring in the semifinal loss to France three days earlier (stream the replay on ESPN+ in the U.S.).
“Next year we have a World Cup in November, we’ll have to play until the latter stages of June again,” Courtois added. “We will get injured. Nobody cares about the players. In June, after a long season, you’ll have to play four games in the Nations League, you’ll get two weeks holiday.
“That’s not enough for players to continue for 12 months at the highest level. If we never say anything, it’s always the same.”
The international calendar is facing further proposed changes, with FIFA considering holding a World Cup every two years, despite opposition from UEFA.
“They’re against the Super League, but they just do the same. They put extra games, they made an extra trophy, the Conference Cup [UEFA Conference League] or whatever the name is. … It’s always the same,” Courtois said.
“They can be angry about teams wanting a Super League, but they don’t care about the players, they just care about their pockets.
“Now you hear that they want to put a European Championship and a World Cup every year. When will we get a rest? Never. In the end, top players will get injured and injured and injured. … We are not robots. It’s just more and more games, and less rest for us, and nobody cares.”