Pep Guardiola advised to launch UEFA revolt amid player welfare ‘lip service’ after FA rant

Will Ford
Guardiola Man City UEFA Champions League
Pep Guardiola should have directed his anger at UEFA and FIFA, not the FA.

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has been advised to aim his anger at UEFA and FIFA rather than the FA after his rant over player welfare in the wake of his side’s 1-0 win over Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final.

Guardiola’s side had to play Chelsea on Saturday having been dumped out of the Champions League by Real Madrid on the Wednesday before, and claimed the FA scheduling was “unacceptable”.

‘Unacceptable’ FA scheduling

Guardiola told BBC Sport: “It is unacceptable. It is really unacceptable.

“Coventry [and] Man United and Chelsea don’t play in the week and let us play today. Next week on Friday would be better, instead of Saturday put it [the match] on Friday for recovery.

“It is for the health of the players. It is not normal. Honestly, it is not normal. It is not possible. It is unacceptable to go 120 minutes. All of you are football players. The emotion too, Madrid, the way we lose.

“I know in this country this is special for many things, but it is for the health of the players. I don’t understand how we survived today.”

Guardiola’s comments were backed by Mikel Arteta and other big club managers who have spoken about the issues of increased game time for their players in recent months.

But the City boss has received backlash from others, particularly in the wake of FA Cup replays being scrapped, with clubs more than willing to go on money-spinning off-season tours that add to their players’ workloads.

‘Push back against UEFA and FIFA’

Keith Wyness, who served as Everton CEO between 2004 and 2009 and now runs a football consultancy advising elite clubs, insists Guardiola’s indignation was misdirected, with UEFA and FIFA creating the problem having announced expansions of the Champions League and Club World Cup.

Wyness told Football Insider: “The biggest issue with player welfare is at the top level.

“For all the Uefa lip service being paid to this issue at the moment, they are the ones creating the biggest problem.

“That’s one area where English football has to push back – against Uefa and Fifa. But it may be too late, with the calendar coming up in the next year.

“There’s also the older pros, who talk about playing 60-70 games a season on pitches that were absolutely atrocious – and never complained of tiredness. There’s a lot of sympathy for that point of view.

“I think most of us would swap into place with a professional footballer, with all the benefits they have.”