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Testing Times for Football

Premier League clubs are back in training and targeting a June start to get this cursed season finished by the end of July.

Every player has been tested for the coronavirus, with some returning positive results. Watford's Adrian Mariappa is one who has been found to be carrying the virus, despite showing no symptoms. He is now self isolating for 7 days.

His positive test reinforces the fact that any of us could be carrying the coronavirus without knowing it and begs the question of whether football is being rushed back too quickly. Are Premier League players being exploited and used as guinea pigs to try and send out a positive message that things are getting back to normal?

It’s often hard to have any sympathy for well paid footballers who appear to live a very privileged life. But, in this instance, are they being coerced into taking unnecessary risks just so we can be entertained and the money men can protect their investments?

Mariappa’s teammate and captain, Troy Deeney, seems to think so. Prior to the players being tested, Deeney had already stated that he would not be returning to training. He has a young child who has experienced breathing difficulties and Deeney said that he would rather take a financial hit than risk any possibility of infecting his family. At a meeting of Premier League captains, he also raised the issue of the increased risk of the virus for black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) players.

Former Spurs and Charlton striker, Darren Bent, has said that, had he still been playing, he would have had serious reservations about returning to training. Danny Rose, currently on loan at Newcastle from Spurs, has described players as being treated like “lab rats” for other people’s entertainment.

It’s difficult to argue with the players’ concerns. Yes, they will be tested on a regular basis but experience has shown us that this virus doesn’t behave in a way that allows us to control it as we would like to. Will it really be safe for footballers to be grappling with each other at set pieces when we’re all still being told to stay 2 metres apart?

We all love football. We miss it desperately and there’s no doubt that viewing figures for the Bundesliga have rocketed. But do we really need to rush it back in this country just because we’re bored and short of good news stories?

Maybe the players would feel more comfortable and less exploited if our MPs were sat next to each other in a packed Parliament.