Fellow England international Danny Rose also has reservations, saying "people's lives are at risk"
Tuesday 12 May 2020 09:10, UK
Raheem Sterling has reservations about the prospect of football resuming next month.
Elite football in Britain has been suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak since March 13, with Leicester's 4-0 win over Aston Villa on March 9 the last Premier League fixture played, and Liverpool's Champions League exit at the hands of Atletico Madrid on March 11 the most recent elite fixture in England.
The government has indicated top-level sport in England could restart behind closed doors from June 1, and the Premier League is aiming for a return to action to complete the season in the coming weeks.
But Manchester City and England winger Sterling admits he has mixed emotions when it comes to the thought of Premier League football resuming in the not-too-distant future.
"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 footballers but the whole medical staff, referees," he said on his YouTube channel.
"I don't know how that's going to work, but I feel like once that side of the people's safety and the player's safety is secured and their wellbeing is looked after then that's the right time to go back in.
"Until then, I'm...how can I say...not scared but reserved and thinking what the worst outcome could be. At the same time I'm looking forward to it and I really want to get back but hopefully it will all be well when we do get back."
Tottenham full-back Danny Rose, on loan at Newcastle, offered a withering assessment of the current debate around resumption during an Instagram Live, not least the idea that sport would help raise the population's spirits.
"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, people's lives are at risk," he said.
"Football shouldn't even be spoken about coming back until the numbers (infected or dying) have dropped massively. It's b*******."
In a conference call with Sky Sports News and other media outlets after clubs met on Monday, Premier League chief executive Richard Masters was asked if players felt comfortable about returning and had the ability to veto a resumption.
"That's a hypothetical situation. We are not anticipating it," Masters said.
"And, obviously, what we are trying to do - through all the discussions we're having through the medical groups and with government and medical advisors - is create the safest possible environment for a return to training for players, for managers, for their coaches and the other staff that need to be involved.
"So we think we are going to be able to create that safe environment. But we need to talk to players about it. So as I said earlier, it is right the players voice their concerns. It is right that they will have concerns and questions and we need to hear those first."
The Premier League must stay close to "emerging data of a possible heightened risk among black and other ethnic minority individuals who contract coronavirus", Masters added.
Leyton Orient head coach Jobi McAnuff told Sky Sports News last week of his concern for black players. Masters says he is aware of the need to keep a careful eye on what the data shows considering the high proportion of non-white players in the league.
"It is an emerging science and we have to stay close to that," he said.
"All I would say is that obviously we are trying to create a safe environment where fit young men from whatever background they come from, the science seems to suggest they would be safe, particularly in the environment that we are creating for them.
"But in regards to that science, we have to stay close to it and we have to recognise it and follow it.
More than 32,000 people have now died in hospitals, care homes and the wider community after testing positive for coronavirus.
Sterling revealed he has been personally touched by the tragedy and has urged the public to stay safe and act responsibly.
"I knew it was serious when football got cancelled," he said.
"I'm not saying football is the most important thing in the world but when a football event or the Premier League gets cancelled then you realise this is massive, this is something I've never seen.
"From the moment we got told we were off I knew this was very serious. I've had friends whose grandma's passed away, I've had family members as well that have passed away. You've got to be wise and take care of yourself and those around you."
Sterling said he has been working on individual aspects of his game during the lockdown including free-kicks and shooting with his left foot.
Although the 25-year-old feels he has benefited from that, he admits he misses his Manchester City team-mates and cannot wait to return to work with them.
"It's just a weird one not being in a routine," he said.
"I miss the boys, miss the training ground, the energy that you get driving into training. Even though it's early in the morning it's a good feeling.
"I miss a lot of the boys, just the energy in the changing rooms in the morning after you have breakfast you come down and everybody's talking and having a good laugh. I can't wait to get back, that's for sure."