The players’ union will meet with the Premier League on Friday afternoon to discuss the increased risk to black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) players, with PFA deputy Bobby Barnes saying the issue must be addressed before the start of full-contact training, according to Standard Sport.
A significant number of Bame players are thought to have expressed concerns over returning to action, and a small group of Watford players, including captain Troy Deeney, declined to start socially distanced training this week, as did Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante, who could be given the rest of the season off.
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, even considering factors such as deprivation or existing health conditions.
Top-flight clubs hope to resume full-contact training by the end of next week, but reassuring players over safety appears to be one of the biggest obstacles, with Deeney having said he did not receive adequate assurances from the top-flight before the start of “Phase One” training.
Barnes told Standard Sport: “Without doubt, [the risk to Bame players] has to be addressed. I will be meeting with the Premier League this afternoon, along with medical experts, where we will be discussing this issue again.
“We need to be sure that the risks can be managed appropriately. If any measures need to be taken, we need to look at those possibilities.
“The confidence of players is going to be crucial in moving to Phase Two and Phase Three, which is actually playing games.