The Premier League restart could begin on June 1, behind closed doors, after the United Kingdom government announced plans to emerge from the COVID-19 lockdown. However, should football be allowed to resume and how do the players themselves feel about this?
According to ESPN, the 50-page document, titled “Our Plan to Rebuild: The UK Government’s COVID-19 Recovery Strategy,” includes “permitting cultural and sporting events to take place behind closed doors for broadcast, while avoiding the risk of large-scale social contact,” if a number of conditions relating to limiting the spread of the virus can be met.
The Premier League, which has been suspended since March 13, will only be allowed to resume if the governing bodies can set out a pathway that satisfies ministers and health professionals. However, with 92 games still left to be played, the risk of contracting and spreading the coronavirus to players and coaches remains a massive threat.
Premier League restart: Is it worth the risk?
Football leagues around the world have taken different measures to tackle the pandemic. Ligue 1, France’s top division, has been cancelled along with the Eredivisie in the Netherlands and Belgium’s top league.
However, the Bundesliga has been allowed to resume on May 16. But fears on the COVID-19 risks made headlines yet again when the entire team of Germany’s second tier Dynamo Dreseden was quarantined for two weeks, after two players tested positive for the coronavirus. So where does the Premier League restart go from here?
While the league’s big clubs are ready to kick-off, the same can’t be said for the players themselves. Danny Rose, the Tottenham fullback on loan at Newcastle had fierce criticism for the possible restart. “Government is saying ‘bring football back’ because it is going to boost the nation’s morale. I don’t give a f*** about the nation’s morale, bro, people’s lives are at risk,” he said.
Similarly, Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling added “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.”
Rose and Sterling join the likes of Manchester City forward Sergio Aguero and Chelsea’s Anthony Rudiger who have previously expressed fears about returning to football. Brighton’s Glenn Murray also brought up his concerns for continuing the season, as it’s almost impossible to practice social distancing during a corner kick.
So with England’s top flight players expressing fears over the Premier League restart, will we see the return of the billion-dollar sport in less than a month? While fans will finally have something to look forward to, will football really be worth it without our favourite stars on the pitch?
Source: ESPN, Goal, The Guardian