Antonio Conte calls on referees to protect stars like Eden Hazard after Chelsea vs Manchester United furore

simon johnson
Evening Standard
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Getty Images

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has urged referees to protect star player Eden Hazard from opponents.

Hazard was targeted by Manchester United during Chelsea's FA Cup quarter-final win at STamford Bridge on Monday night.

Ander Herrera was sent off for two yellow card offences, while Marcus Rojo stamped on the Belgian, although wasn't punished by referee Michael Oliver despite confirming to the Football Association that he saw the incident.

Hazard is the most fouled player in the Premier League since 2014 (258 fouls) and has been kicked more than Lionel Messi this term (75 fouls to 51).

Conte said: "I think it's right for the referees always to make the best decision and try to get the players to have the respect for their opponents and for football.

"We play football. Then, I know – me, first of all – it can happen that you can be kicked. It's normal, this.

"But the referee must pay great attention and then try to respect the rules of football. The football is a great sport.

"It's important to underline that I spoke about the [Manchester United] situation, about Eden Hazard, when you asked me if the double yellow card for Herrera was right.

"I replied in this way, that in the first 20-25 minutes I saw only this type of situation for him, and it was impossible for him to play football.

"But I understand in football there are this type of situations.

"I don't like this, and I always want to face a team who want to play football and to beat us playing football. I think that's important.”

Despite Hazard being a victim of rough treatment, Conte isn't concerned that he could suffer a major injury.

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

He added: "Hazard is a type of player who is very difficult to stop. For this reason, sometimes you try to stop him with a good or bad way.

"But I'm not worried. I'm not worried about this. Eden is very strong, physically, and has shown me that he is able to play this League, and this league is very strong physically.

"He's not tall, but he's strong.

"Eden is showing great football but also great character and great personality in every game. I think he is growing a lot in this aspect.

"For him, it's fantastic. Not only for him, but also for the team.”

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