Football’s starting up again. Oh yes it is. Oh no it isn’t. (Reportedly)

By Tony Attwood

Fifpro, the union of professional footballers which is established across the world (although rivalled in England by the PFA) conducted a survey of some 1,600 footballers (1,134 men and 468 women) from England, France, Switzerland, South Africa and the United States from March 22 to April 14.

According to his results, “22% of female players and 13% of male players reported symptoms compatible with the diagnosis of depression”. A state of “generalized anxiety” was also reported by 18% of the female players and 16% of the male players questioned.

Now at this point the idiot commentators like P Morgan and the others who we reported on in the last article would say, “Look at the money they have got, what have they got to be depressed about?”

The percentage of players reporting symptoms was significantly higher among those worried about their future in the football industry, that in other professions, said the global players’ union.,

But Fifpro has an even more important point, for it has also argued that the concern around the mental health of the players should not be used as an argument for a resumption of competitions as soon as possible.

“If we put pressure on the players to bring them back into an environment where they could feel that their safety is at risk, it would rather increase their anxiety and worry,” replied Jonas Baer-Hoffmann, secretary-general of Fifpro on Monday during a telephone press conference.

Certainly in England, nothing more than lip-service has been given to the damaging psychological and physical effects that the lockdown is having on people.

Indeed as the Guardian reported, “Experts say newly conducted polls and emerging studies into Covid-19 together with lessons from past outbreaks suggest that the pandemic could have profound and potentially long-term impacts on mental health.”

But the response from the Daily Mail is that “Premier League clubs are targeting a return to training on May 9 as English football bids to get back underway, according to reports.”  [Oh those reports, where do they get them from?]   “Managers across the top flight are said to have held talks with players about plans to get back to the training pitch ahead of a proposed restart to the season following over a month of suspension due to coronavirus, the Sun reports.”

Of course that is a bit of a relief – if it is in the Sun it is not likely to be true (at least according to “Reports”)

There’s no detail in the story – after the bit quoted above what we get is a list of clubs, followed by the name of the manager, followed by a variation on the notion that “Eddie Howe has reportedly spoken to his Cherries stars about possibly returning to training, the report adds, while Sean Dyche is preparing for his Burnley players to return on the same date.”

The Guardian however is going the other way saying an increasing number of Premier League clubs are actively discussing the possibility of bringing the season to an early end, with concerns growing over the feasibility of a return even behind closed doors.”

They also add the interesting point that “Clubs were told last week that play would resume only once there was sufficient capacity to test players, staff and other individuals – such as TV broadcast teams – involved in any behind-doors competition. There has also been a provisional medical plan drawn up between the league and range of club doctors over how to minimise the risk of infection.

“But the practicality of the plan was questioned by one club, who argued that players may have to be separated from their families for a month or more to make sure they are not infected. There is also the concern over the amount of testing required, with perhaps multiple tests per person per match being required, and the possible insensitivity of undertaking such a plan when frontline workers in the NHS and other public services are currently not getting the testing they need.”

And now, for the first time they are admitting that outside the “big six” there is a lot of worries about the finances of the clubs because they would have to extend contracts of some of their players who might otherwise have left.

Indeed one club “raised the issue of what would happen should a player refuse to play over welfare concerns, or if a player who had been set for a transfer were selected against their prospective new club.”

These issues have not been discussed by a Premier League meeting, and the League is not due to meet again until May.

3 Replies to “Football’s starting up again. Oh yes it is. Oh no it isn’t. (Reportedly)”

  1. Zico, Socrates, Maradona, Barnes, Romario, Redondo, Ronaldo de Lima, Ronaldinho. Just some of the greats that I’ve been privileged to watch and will always hold dear. Today, and probably in the future, I am completely indifferent to a corrupt sport controlled by venal sociopaths.

  2. OT: Officials

    MancunianMatters has a blurb on officials, or rather the person in the middle.

    It talks a bit about referees in the USA and compares them to the UK, mostly at the grassroots level. I gather the turnover rate in the UK for some fraction of referees is about 21%. I was an official in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada for a while. Every team had to submit a person to become an official. I don’t know that I enjoyed it quite as much as some of the USA referees interviewed did. I preferred being a linesperson to being a referee, but at the lower leagues the linespeople were provided by the clubs playing.

    I think referees should get respect, at all levels. To look at PGMO referees in the EPL, one just wonders why. The Laws of the game allow the referee to _demand_ respect, but the laws seemingly are never used in this manner. But you can easily find games where almost identical situations are judged by the same referee, and it seems obvious that the laws are not being applied equally in all situations. How can a player show respect to someone doesn’t attempt to be unbiased?

    Andrew has been keeping track of how often some referees get certain teams. Surely the referees know they are being given the same teams far too often? How can they not request to not be used so often for particular teams?

    I’ve been keeping some track of instances when a player requires treatment. I wonder, how can the referee show such contempt for what the treatments are showing him/her? The treatments are like having the perfect accessor attending the game talking over the loudspeakers. How can the foul or yellow card count be indicating Team A is cheating a lot, while the treatment data shows that Team B is cheating? How can a player need treatment and it is later discovered the player is seriously injured in whatever collision happened and there isn’t even a foul given?

    I think the EPL needs to require PGMO to get a more useful number of referees for EPL games (I will guess 30) with a geographic distribution similar to the distribution of clubs, and an ethnic/racial distribution similar to that of the UK.

    If a particular referee is shown disrespect in a game, and the referee does _not_ administer discipline (yellow card for unsporting conduct), The (sweet) FA must suspend that player in a serious way and the league or FA must suspend that referee as well. If the player in question continues to show disrespect, the length of suspension must continue to get longer and longer.

    Of course, the person showing disrespect may not be a player. It could be staff of one of the teams, staff of the stadium, a fan or someone else. Disrespect by these other people should be handled in a comparable manner. Disrespect by a fan requires ejection from the stadium before play (re)starts.

  3. OT: Officials

    The above isn’t meant to indicate that the PGMO officials are acting properly, I still think they are biased and being used in manners they shouldn’t be. There are not enough officials, and each official should only see any given team twice in a season (once home and once away). For me, that requirement is not just league play, but includes the league cup (Carabao) and The FA Cup games.

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