Players have genuine concerns about their health as the Premier League considers resuming fixtures amid the COVID-19 pandemic, players’ union deputy chief Bobby Barnes has said.
The league’s “Project Restart” envisages a return to play in June at neutral venues, once given the green light from the government, but players are worried about transmission when sharing the pitch with others in a contact sport.
A British government study said black people are nearly twice as likely to die from COVID-19 than whites and Barnes said young black players were apprehensive.
“There are players who have voiced genuine concerns,” the Professional Footballers Association’s Barnes told the Times.
“You’ve got players who’ve got young children, players with pregnant partners, people with underlying health conditions.
“Some of the young black players I’ve spoken to have read what’s in the press and want answers to that [government study]. ‘Am I more affected in my demographic and if so why?’
“My stance with the Premier League from day one has been it’s all very well those of us in suits saying what our opinions are but we’re not going to be out there on a Saturday afternoon and we’re not going to be going back to our family.”
A third first team player at Brighton & Hove Albion tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend, sparking fresh concerns about the league’s proposed restart.
Clubs are due to meet later on Monday to further discuss how to complete the remaining 92 matches of the season.