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“Big punishment”- Tottenham boss Conte urges referees to not turn a blind eye to a key issue facing players

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Tottenham Hotspur manager Antonio Conte calls for officials to protect players from dangerous tackles

Speaking after his side’s 1-0 loss to Brighton over the weekend (h/t football.london), Tottenham Hotspur boss Antonio Conte called for match officials to protect players from dangerous tackles that could lead to injury.

His comments come after wing-back Matt Doherty was ruled out for the rest of the season after being on the receiving end of a brutal challenge from Matty Cash of Aston Villa, during their 4-0 win against the Villains last week.

Conte urged the referee to pay more attention and protect players, as you could damage the player if a tackle comes in that catches half the ball and half the body, which is not the same as going for the ball when making a challenge.

“I think that sometimes the referee has to pay more attention and protect players. I understand that sometimes you go and you take the ball, but if you go and take half ball and half body and you damage the player, it’s not the same.”

Tottenham Hotspur manager Antonio Conte calls for officials to protect players from dangerous tackles.  (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
Antonio Conte wants officials to protect players from nasty challenges in the game. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Despite going in on Doherty with a rash scissor tackle, Cash did not see red for his challenge. This incident became a point of contention in the game, given the magnitude of the injury, but ultimately nothing more than a warning was given to the Villa man. 

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It is quite unfortunate for Doherty, with the Irishman having just established himself as a regular under Conte and benching usual first-choice left-back Sergio Reguilon, despite not even being a left-footer.

His Italian manager was of the opinion that a big punishment needs to be handed out to these players who look to hurt their opponents. It could discourage others from following in their footsteps.

“I think for the safety of the players, the referees have to pay great attention. You have to take the ball, but when you take the body, and you make damages to your opponent, I think you have to make a big punishment to the players.”

Tottenham Hotspur manager Antonio Conte calls for officials to protect players from dangerous tackles.  (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
Antonio Conte spoke about punishing players for rash tackles after he lost Matt Doherty to injury for the rest of the season. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Without Doherty, Conte reinstated Reguilon on the left and played Emerson Royal on the right flank in defence against Brighton, but neither player could prevent their team from slipping to defeat at the death.

Having already dealt with injuries to Son Heung-Min, Eric Dier, and Cristian Romero earlier in the season, Doherty being ruled out for the remainder of the campaign will hurt us most given how crucial this current period of games is for our top-four hopes.

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Conte is not the only manager to share this sentiment, with Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel also calling for more protection for the players. The German has seen his side suffer in the winter last year, due to a number of long-term injuries this season.

The Premier League has always been known for its physicality, but that does not mean that all rash and dangerous tackles are let go. Players, after all, use the sport as a means of livelihood, and one bad challenge could result in dire consequences for their career. As Conte and Tuchel mentioned, more protection is needed for the players, which officials need to take care of on the pitch.

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