PFA asks Premier League to research the effect of coronavirus on BAME players
Data from the Office of National Statistics suggests black men and women are almost twice as likely to die from coronavirus compared to non-whites
By PA Media
Last Updated: 19/05/20 4:28pm
The Professional Footballers' Association has asked the Premier League to conduct further research into the effect of coronavirus on players from ethnic minority backgrounds.
It comes after some BAME footballers have expressed their concerns to the PFA about returning to action amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Data from the Office of National Statistics suggests black men and women are almost twice as likely to die from coronavirus compared to non-whites, even when factors such as health, disability, household composition and area deprivation are taken into account.
Michael Bennett, the director of player welfare at the PFA, says he has been called by players who are concerned about the risks.
"I have spoken to players particularly from a BAME group because of concerns over contracting the virus," he told the PA news agency.
"I'm not sure how significant [the risk] is in that particular area, all we can do is talk to them about that.
"There have been players that have come on to me with concerns about going back because of health issues, and I want to put on record that from a PFA welfare point of view the health and safety of players has to come first before anything else."
The Premier League's medical advisor Mark Gillett says every possible measure is being made to mitigate the risk to players of all ethnicities, with clubs returning to small group training on Tuesday in the first step in the competition's Project Restart plans.
"It's a fair thing to acknowledge that there is an increased risk in BAME groups," he said.
"In mitigation of that the risk in young fit athletes is still very, very small and I think that is an important factor. I come back again to the fact that we're trying to create the safest possible working environment we can for these people.
"I'm happy we've mitigated all the risks that we can understand at this point and then when more information becomes available obviously we will do everything we can to mitigate against that as well. We will certainly move with it in real time as more information becomes available."
Watford captain Troy Deeney has said he will not return to training this week amid concerns for his own son's health, as well as that of BAME players.
Premier League clubs unanimously voted in favour of resuming training in small groups from Tuesday as English football's top tier plots its return to action amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Watford players are expected back on Wednesday at the earliest, but Deeney has said he is unwilling to train in the current circumstances, citing concerns he raised during a Premier League meeting featuring all 20 captains.
"We're due back in this week. I've said I'm not going in. It's nothing to do with financial gain," Deeney said on Eddie Hearn and Tony Bellew's Talk The Talk podcast. "When I go into full detail about my personal situation, everyone here will go 'no problem'.
"My son is five months and he's had breathing difficulties. I don't want to come home and put him in more danger. You've got to drive in in your own kit, you can't have showers, then drive back in the same dirty kit you've got.
"If I'm putting my clothing in with my son's or my missus' it's more likely to be in the house."