Thibaut Courtois has been told to quit ‘whining’ over the amount of games in the football calendar by Dutch pundit Rafael van der Vaart.
The Holland star-turned-pundit has become particularly outspoken since retiring from the game and his latest issue came after Courtois slammed UEFA for hosting a third-placed play-off for the Nations League.
Courtois accused football’s governing bodies of prioritising money over player welfare, something Van der Vaart was quick to rubbish.
Rafael van der Vaart (left) wants Thibaut Courtois (right) to stop ‘whining’ about the schedule
‘I think it’s silly,’ Van der Vaart said during an appearance on Nederlandse Omroep Stichting (NOS) as a pundit for Holland against Gibraltar, via Voetbalmagazine.
‘You then have six months of vacation. You only play football, a club pays you a lot of money… of course the match schedule is very busy, but we have all been through that.
‘Competitions are the most fun there is. They are whining.’
Courtois refused to be silenced in the build-up to the third-placed play-off – which Belgium lost – as he likened players to ‘robots’ in the current system.
Roberto Martinez’s side were beaten by Italy on Sunday, finishing fourth in the Nations League
‘This game is just a money game and we have to be honest about it,’ said Courtois. ‘We just play it because for UEFA it’s extra money.’
He added: ‘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.
‘Next year we have a World Cup in November, we have to play until the latter stages of June again. We will get injured. Nobody cares about the players any more. If we never say anything it will be always the same.’
But Van der Vaart doubled down on his criticism and suggested that a goalkeeper of all players cannot point to tiredness as ‘it’s standing there a bit’.
Courtois has made 14 appearances for club and country since this season started in mid-August and last season played 61 times in 285 days, ending in the quarter-finals of Euro 2020 on July 2.
Courtois has accused football’s governing bodies of focusing more on money than players
He bemoaned new UEFA competitions such as the Nations League and Europa Conference League, and FIFA’s proposals for the World Cup and Euros to be held every two years rather than every four.
More games equals more money, which is why clubs and countries vote these competitions and schedules into existence.
Courtois is reported to earn in the region of £270,000 a week having signed a new deal with Real Madrid through to 2026 back in August.
- Van der Vaart countert kritiek Courtois: ‘Ga gewoon voetballen of lever de helft in’ – Voetbal internationaal – Sportmagazine
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