Player backlash amidst return of European soccer

After several weeks of uncertainty as to when the domestic soccer leagues around the globe will return to action, the English Premier League is close to setting a date. The EPL’s board of directors is set to meet with the club presidents on Friday. However, players are unhappy that their health is being jeopardized for the financial interests of their clubs. Several English players have taken to their social media accounts to voice their opinions. 

It is no secret that the urgency of several teams’ board of directors is highly influenced by the severe economic blow caused by Covid-19. This is the main motivator in their desire to return to play as soon as possible. Even though the matches would be played behind closed doors, there is still a monetary profit that could be made by the millions of fans who are sure to watch the games on television. 

Players speak up

Manchester City striker, Raheem Sterling, was the first player to publicly announce that he is uneasy about the possible decision to return to action so soon. Via his youtube channel, he calmly stated, “The moment we do go back it just needs to be a moment where it’s not just for footballing reasons, it’s safe for not just us but the whole medical staff, referees.” Sterling went on to comment that he will proceed to do his job with extreme caution and hope for the best, but cannot help but think about the worst. While there is logical sense in Sterling’s statements, his fellow England international teammate Danny Rose heatedly shared his thoughts in an Instagram live stream, “Government is saying ‘bring football back’ because it is going to boost the nation’s morale. I don’t care about the nation’s morale, bro, people’s lives are at risk.” 

It’s important to note the points that both sides are making. The officials in charge of deciding the return of soccer undoubtedly have half their mind on the lack of profit that no competition signifies for their business. However, they are correct in stating that European competition is a positive distraction that could help boost the public’s morale. It’s a step towards normalcy that the entire world is eager to feel at the moment. As for the players though, they are still men who have families to take care of. To risk their own health by partaking in playing a soccer match is to jeopardize the lives of their wives and children as well. 

With European play set to resume in August, it will be interesting to see when the EPL decides to resume play because the packed schedule will also test the fitness of the players. One thing is for sure, the threat of a contagion of the coronavirus in any team would signify a league shutdown until further notice once more. 

 

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