6 footballers who don't want to play because of coronavirus

Luke Bradshaw
·Sports Writer
NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 29: Danny Rose of Newcastle United during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Burnley FC at St. James Park on February 29, 2020 in Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images)
Danny Rose of Newcastle United. (AMA/Getty Images)

As Premier League footballers continue with their third week of training ahead of the league’s resumption on 17 June, various players have expressed concern.

League chiefs announced that the 2019/20 season will resume as part of its Project Restart initiative after it was curtailed in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA), which represents the players, returning is optional, but it remains to be seen how that will play out once competitive games are under way.

Teams said on Friday that “it was agreed the PFA, players and managers are key to this process and will be further consulted”, but a number of players are genuinely worried about returning to their jobs.

We take a look at which players have spoken out about returning to play.

Troy Deeney

WATFORD, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 29: Troy Deeney of Watford celebrates their opening goal during the Premier League match between Watford FC and Liverpool FC at Vicarage Road on February 29, 2020 in Watford, United Kingdom. (Photo by Charlotte Wilson/Offside/Offside via Getty Images)
Troy Deeney of Watford. (Offside via Getty Images)

The Watford captain has been the most vocal about his unease regarding the return to action and has yet to take part in any training sessions.

On the Talk the Talk podcast, Deeney said: "My son is five months and he's had breathing difficulties. I don't want to come home and put him in more danger.

“You've got to drive in in your own kit, you can't have showers, then drive back in the same dirty kit you've got.

He has also asked the Premier League whether there would be additional testing and precautions for black, Asian and mixed ethnicity players.

Danny Rose

“It’s a f**king joke”. That’s what Danny Rose said in an Instagram post when discussing Project Restart.

Rose, who is currently on loan at Newcastle United from Tottenham, has consistently been vocal when it comes to wider social issues in the game, particularly racism and mental health.

He added: "I'm sad that people are getting sick and being affected. Football should be the last of things that need to be sorted."

N’Golo Kanté

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 01: N'Golo Kanté of Chelsea during the Premier League match between Leicester City and Chelsea FC at The King Power Stadium on February 01, 2020 in Leicester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Visionhaus)
N'Golo Kanté of Chelsea. (Visionhaus)

When Chelsea returned to training, their French midfielder chose not to as he was uncomfortable doing so.

The World Cup winner’s older brother, Niama, died of a heart attack two years ago, while his father passed away when Kanté was 11.

The club have been supportive of the player’s decision from the outset.


Chelsea's Willian (Photo by Adam Davy/PA Images via Getty Images)
Chelsea's Willian. (PA via Getty Images)

Also at Chelsea, Brazilian winger Willian expressed his feelings regarding the resumption of the league.

Speaking to the Evening Standard, the 32-year-old said: “We’re really keen to return, we really miss playing and doing what we love. But it needs to be safe for us to do so. That’s how we’re looking at it. Our health has to come first.

“So right now, players don’t feel comfortable with the idea of returning until it’s totally safe to do so.”

Sergio Aguero

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 12: Manchester City's Sergio Aguero in action during training at Manchester City Football Academy on March 12, 2020 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Tom Flathers/Manchester City FC via Getty Images)
Manchester City's Sergio Aguero. (anchester City FC via Getty Images)

On 1 May, Manchester City’s striker told El Chiringuito TV in his native Argentina about his fears. He said: “The majority of players are scared because they have family, they have children, they have babies.

“When we go back, I imagine that we will be very tense, we will be very careful and the moment someone feels ill, you will think: ‘What’s gone on there?’ It does scare me.”

Tyrone Mings

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - MARCH 12: Tyrone Mings of Aston Villa in action during a training session at Bodymoor Heath training ground on March 12, 2020 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Neville Williams/Aston Villa FC via Getty Images)
Tyrone Mings of Aston Villa. (Getty Images)

While maybe not refusing to play, on 31 May the Aston Villa defender believes players don’t actually have any choice. He described the decision to resume the season as ‘financially driven’ and that the players were merely ‘commodities in the game’.

In an interview with the Daily Mail, the England international explained that the option to return was only in theory.

He said: "We got the option to come back to training and that's fine because we didn't have to but if the FA and the EFL and the government and Uefa and the Premier League all say you are going back to play, it really doesn't make any difference what the players think because you are going back to play. It is get in or get out."

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