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 here
“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.
Portuguese side Guimaraes report three positive cases for coronavirus
The Portuguese government will “assess the risk” of re-starting football this month if there are a large number of COVID-19 cases among players, a health official said on Sunday after three players at top-flight Vitoria Guimaraes tested positive.
The Lusa news agency later reported that three players plus two members of staff at Famalicao, another first division club, has also tested positive but said that the club would not confirm the results, citing confidentiality.
The Primeira Liga, suspended since mid-March, is set to re-start on May 30 and teams began training last week. The second division has been called off.
“It’s a very complex situation to reconcile the return of football with health and safety regulations,” the head of Portugal’s DGS health directorate Graca Fretes told reporters.
“If the tests carried out by the teams indicate a high number of positive results, a specific risk assessment will have to be considered by local, regional and national health authorities,” she said.
“The rules will be followed, we will wait for the results and then we will assess the risks”,
Guimaraes said in a statement that three players, who it did not identify, had tested positive during routine tests.
The club said that the three players were asymptomatic and had been advised by the club to self-isolate, while the rest of the squad would continue to carry out individual training after returning to work last week.
This was in contrast to an incident in Germany on Saturday where the entire squad of German second-tier club Dynamo Dresden were placed into a two-week quarantine on the orders of the local health authorities following two positive coronavirus tests.
Meanwhile, Vitoria Setubal said that all of the club’s players and staff had given negative results in a second round of testing.
“No player, coach or member of staff has been found to be infected, meaning that the first stage of training has been successfully completed,” the club said in a statement.
“That means that the squad can enter a new phase of work and begin collective training sessions right away on Monday.”