15 March 2020

Wayne Rooney lashes out at authorities for treating footballers as 'guinea pigs'

Wayne Rooney has hit out at authorities for their delayed reaction to postponing football.

The Derby County player has said he couldn't believe it took until Arsenal Manager Mikel Arteta contracted the virus for football to take action.

On Thursday, the Government said sporting events could go ahead, but after news broke about Arteta's condition Premier League chiefs had an emergency meeting where they decided to delay the league until April 3.

Rooney said in The Times: "Why did we wait until Friday? Why did it take Mikel Arteta to get ill for the game in England to do the right thing?

"For players, staff and their families it has been a worrying week - one in which you felt a lack of leadership from the government and from the FA and Premier League. 

"After the emergency meeting, at last the right decision was made - until then it almost felt like footballers in England were being treated like guinea pigs. 

"I know how I feel. If any of my family get infected through me because I've had to play when it's not safe, and they get seriously ill, I'd have to think hard about ever playing again. I would never forgive the authorities."

Rooney is worried about infecting his family, including his wife Coleen (PA Images)

He also suggested that money was the reason the Government didn't call sporting events off.

"The rest of sport - tennis, Formula One, rugby, golf, football in other countries - was closing down and we were being told to carry on.

"I think a lot of footballers were wondering, 'Is it something to do with money being involved in this'?"

Rooney suggested a radical change to the timeline of the season so everyone could play in a safe environment.

"We're happy to play until September if the season extends to then, if that's how it has to be. That's our job. As long as we know we're safe to play and it's a safe environment for spectators, we'll play.

"The next World Cup is in November and December 2022, so you could actually use this situation as an opportunity and say we're going to finish the 2019-20 season later this year, then prepare for 2022 by having the next two seasons starting in winter."

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