The Professional Footballers’ Association has asked the Premier League to conduct extra research into the possible effect of Covid-19 on BAME players.
The request was made as clubs were due to go back to training from Tuesday before a possible restart of the season next month.
A substantial number of BAME players are believed to have expressed strong concerns to the players’ union over a return. The Watford captain, Troy Deeney, has said he will not be joining club training because of health concerns.
Data from the UK Office for National Statistics suggests that black people are more than four times as likely to die from coronavirus as white people, and that a greater risk of death existed even after removing factors such as deprivation or existing health conditions.
The Premier League’s medical adviser, Mark Gillett, said that the league would be monitoring the risk to BAME players, dependent on more data emerging.
“We will do everything we can to mitigate against [the risk] … as more information becomes available,” he said. “But the risk in young fit athletes is still very small and I think that is an important factor.”
Deeney said he had raised questions at a recent meeting involving the league and captains and had not been satisfied it was safe to train.
“We’re due back in this week; I’ve said I’m not going,” he told Eddie Hearn and Tony Bellew on their Talk the Talk YouTube show. “Within the meeting I asked very simple questions. For Black, Asian and mixed ethnicities they are four times more likely to get the illness and twice as likely to have long lasting illness. Is there any additional screening? Heart stuff, to see if anyone has a problem?
“I feel that should be addressed. I can’t get a haircut until mid-July but I can go and get in a box with 19 people and jump for a header? I don’t know how that works. No one could answer the questions – not because they didn’t want to, because they didn’t have the information. I just said: ‘If you don’t know the information, why would I put myself at risk?’”
The striker said it is also a major consideration that his five-month-old son has breathing difficulties. “I don’t want to come home and put him in more danger,” he said.