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‘We are not robots’: Belgium keeper Courtois takes aim at Uefa and Fifa

Football’s governing bodies are accused of prioritising money over player welfare

Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois has hit out at football’s governing bodies Uefa and Fifa for treating players like “robots” and for prioritising money over the welfare of the game’s international stars. 

Real Madrid’s No.1 was part of the Belgium team that lost 2-1 to Italy in the Uefa Nations League third-place game on Sunday. It was a match which “sparked” the criticism, the BBC reported. 

The 29-year-old said the competition’s extra fixture was “just a money game”. He told Sky Sports: “We just play it because for Uefa it is extra money and it is an extra game on TV.” Both nations changed their line-ups and he added that had either team been in the final “there would have been others playing”.

Courtois has argued that the introduction of new competitions showed that the players had been forgotten. Uefa launched the Nations League in 2018 as an attempt to replace “meaningless international friendlies”, The Times reported. European football’s governing body also launched the Uefa Conference League for clubs this season. 

‘When will we get a rest?’

Last month it was reported that Fifa was carrying out a feasibility study into the practicalities of altering the World Cup cycle. The FT said that world football’s governing body is plotting a “new future for the game” by pitching a bold proposition: staging the Fifa World Cup finals every two years, instead of four.

Courtois believes that the additional matches will inevitably lead to injuries. “If we never say anything it will always be the same,” he said. “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. 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.”

Uefa: games have not increased

In response to the comments, Uefa told the BBC that the Nations League has not increased the overall number of matches played by national teams and fixtures are scheduled on dates of the international match calendar. 

“Its introduction was meant to support national team football with meaningful, balanced and exciting matches at all levels, which has actually happened thanks to the fact all teams have objectives to achieve in the competition,” the statement said. “Uefa does not keep any of the revenues from the Nations League, which are entirely redistributed to its national associations. These revenues fund the organisation and promotion of football all over Europe.”

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