London (AFP) – Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuettl has compared the habit of spending excessive amounts of time playing video games to alcoholism and drug addiction, saying footballers need protection.
The Austrian was speaking after an anonymous English Football League player revealed lengthy gaming sessions were threatening to ruin his career.
Hasenhuettl admitted to blocking hotel Wi-Fi during away trips while in charge of former club RB Leipzig.
“I think it’s something you have to force actively against and I will do this,” he said at his pre-match press conference ahead of Saturday’s Premier League trip to Brighton.
“I did it in my last club, we had also problems with players, they were playing until three o’clock in the morning before a game.
“You have to be active and to help protect them because it’s not a small problem because if you are honest it’s the same as alcoholism or getting addicted to drugs.”
Hasenhuettl feels it would be easier to tackle video-game addiction if it were seen as an illness but does not believe any of his Saints squad currently have serious problems with gaming.
“In my own squad, at the moment no,” he said. “But you can be sure that I’m always in contact with my captain or with a few players to speak about them.”
“As long as it’s not officially for the government an illness, then we have to protect them in our way,” he added.
“If it would be an illness then it would be easy for the government to say the companies have to give a block after three hours, for example, that they cannot play this game any more.
“I will be active always in this direction because I have to protect them and also outside the pitch and that means for 24 hours I have to look at them and that’s what I will do.”
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