Players should be given the right to refuse to return to action even if football’s Project Restart proceeds amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to the former Watford forward Marvin Sordell.
The 29-year-old, who retired from the game last summer to help protect his mental health, believes it must be a personal choice depending on a player’s individual circumstances.
He said: “Every single person has a different situation going on at home. Some people will be living on their own and they won’t have any responsibilities in that sense, or those fears that they may pass the virus on to somebody else if they contracted it.
“And that’s fine, they’ll be eager to play and they don’t have to worry about certain things. There will be other players who live with their parents, or they are their parents’ only means of being able to get food. Their partners might be pregnant or they might have young kids and some might have underlying health conditions. Some players themselves might have underlying health conditions.
“I think all of those accounts need to be taken in, because you don’t need a situation where you’re forcing people to go back or they’re refusing to do things.”
Premier League clubs said on Friday they remain committed to restarting the 2019-20 season but in a statement said “it was agreed the PFA, LMA, players and managers are key to this process and will be further consulted”.
Sordell, who was last week confirmed as a new member of the Football Association’s inclusion advisory board, said: “You have to respect people’s opinions in this. Many will say they earn a lot of money so they should just go and play.
“This virus at times is a matter of life and death and any game of football – regardless of the famous saying – isn’t more than life or death.
“I think people’s situations need to be respected. If they want to play and it’s safe to do so, then allow them to play. If they don’t want to play because they don’t think it’s safe to do so, I think that needs to be respected.”
Asked whether he would be happy to play if he was still a professional, Sordell said: “I would be uneasy. I’ve got two young kids – my daughter is about to turn three and my son is one. My daughter has an underlying condition, I have asthma, albeit mild, my son also has an underlying health condition.
“I wouldn’t want to risk bringing something back for the want to go and play football and entertain others. I want to go and do my job and I love playing football but some things are bigger than that.
“There will be suggestions that players should just be away from their families for months. I don’t think that’s a reasonable ask.”