Antonio Conte: Tottenham manager criticises football authorities over player welfare


Tottenham manager Antonio Conte says football’s governing bodies are “not worried” about player welfare.

Cristian Romero, Richarlison and Son Heung-min will miss Spurs’ match at home to Liverpool on Sunday because of injuries that could also keep them out of the World Cup.

The Premier League breaks a week before the World Cup starts, on 20 November, and resumes seven days after the final.

“This type of schedule is crazy,” said Conte.

“Many times I hear about the welfare of the players, but they are not really worried about the welfare of the players if the schedule is this.

“In every moment you show that the most important thing is the show must go on.”

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The Spurs boss has criticised the decision by Fifa to play the World Cup in the middle of the season, taken in a bid to negate soaring summer temperatures in host country Qatar, but the Italian also accused the Premier League and Uefa of creating an “impossible situation”.

Teams in the three European cup competitions – the Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League – have played three games a week for the majority of the last three months to ensure the group stages were finished before the start of the World Cup.

Conte also questioned the decision by the English Football League to schedule fourth-round ties of the League Cup for 20-22 December, with the World Cup final on 19 December and Premier League season resuming on 26 December.

“We knew it was crazy to put a World Cup during the league and the Champions League,” he said.

“Honestly, it is really strange in England that we start to play three days after the final of the World Cup. We are the only country to do it.

“Italy, France, Spain and Portugal and other countries, they are taking time to give rest and to breathe a bit.

“I find it crazy that December 21, after three days from the final, we are going to play a game in the Carabao Cup. I find this crazy.

“After three more days you have to play in the Premier League. The show must go on, this is the truth, but honestly I don’t like it.”

However, West Ham manager David Moyes, whose side negotiated six group matches in the Europa Conference League to reach the knockout stages, says the situation is normal for this time of year.

“It’s the time of the season where injuries happen,” said the Hammers boss.

“We go into the Christmas period where you’re asking the players to play a ridiculous amount of games over a short period of time, but this is our culture and that’s what we do.

“But to highlight it more now, there’s probably the same number of injuries as there was last season when there was no World Cup, so if people are surprised then they shouldn’t be.”


The calendar was already an issue, and has been highlighted further after Manchester United ended up in the Europa League play-offs. It is possible there will be no spare midweeks to play the two matches they had called off following the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

Privately, the Premier League feel issues over the calendar this season are solely down to world governing body Fifa, who they blame for the World Cup being played in the winter.

Initially, there had been a feeling disruption due to the Qatar event being moved from the summer would be felt over a number of seasons. However, after speaking with clubs, it was felt a better option would be to contain it within a single campaign.

In line with other top leagues in Europe, that has meant Premier League matches being played within a week of the tournament starting. The Premier League resumes before everyone else because of the major leagues, they are the only one with a Christmas programme.

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