Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson has said that he is concerned that player welfare is too low down the list of football’s priorities after English Premier League clubs decided to continue with the scheduled matches over the Christmas period despite 90 confirmed coronavirus cases among players and staff recorded last week.
Last weekend, six of 10 scheduled games in England’s top flight were called because of coronavirus outbreaks, with Henderson telling the BBC: “I don’t think people can appreciate how intense it is until you actually see it first hand.
A shareholders’ meeting which involved representatives from all 20 clubs came to a collective decision to carry on with the campaign as planned, despite six of the 10 games last weekend being off due to Covid outbreaks.
“Football to us is everything and we want to be able to perform at the highest level every time we set foot on the pitch. And unfortunately, in this period it is difficult to do that.
“That has been like this for a few years now and it has been difficult but then, on top of that, you chuck in Covid and it becomes even harder and even worse,” the 31-year-old England midfielder added.
“I am concerned that nobody really takes player welfare seriously.
Liverpool were without a number of key players for their 2-2 draw at Tottenham Hotspur last weekend, including Virgil van Dijk, Fabinho, Thiago Alcantara and Jordan Henderson.
That was one of five games in two weeks for Liverpool, who face Leicester in a League Cup quarter-final on later tonight.
‘I think decisions get made – of course we want to play as footballers, we want to get out there and play – but I am worried about player welfare and I don’t think anybody does take that seriously enough, especially in this period, when Covid is here.
“We will try to have conversations in the background and try to have some sort of influence going forward, but at the minute I don’t feel the players get the respect they deserve in terms of having somebody being able to speak for them independently and having the power to say actually this isn’t right for player welfare.”
Liverpool assistant boss Pep Lijnders on Tuesday slammed the “absurd” festive schedule. ‘For me the experts are not the managers, they are the scientists and the doctors and we should follow their guidelines. The Premier League should ask them, not the CEOs, not the managers, because health always comes position number one above everything.’
Meanwhile, Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel on Tuesday said that Chelsea must “start from scratch” in selecting a squad for their League Cup quarter-final after reporting yet another Covid-19 case.
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