WAYNE ROONEY has slammed the Government over their treatment of the coronavirus pandemic – saying Brits have been “treated like guinea pigs”.
The former Manchester United star, 34, has claimed footballers have been treated appallingly throughout the crisis.
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Writing in the Sunday Times, Derby County player-coach Rooney claimed: “At Derby, we sat at training on Thursday waiting for Boris Johnson to speak.
“People were anxious. We’d heard in the morning that three Leicester City players had shown symptoms of coronavirus.
“We were going to be playing at Millwall, who last weekend played Nottingham Forest, whose owner [Evangelos Marinakis] tested positive for the virus.
“Our worry was not ourselves — we’re strong enough to get over it — but our families, our friends, everyone we come into contact with.
“We were already thinking twice about carrying on and I know from friends throughout the game that we weren’t alone. I don’t think anyone in football wanted to play.
“Johnson didn’t speak until 5pm. By that time I was back in the house, waiting for him to come on.
“One of the things I wanted to know about was the schools. I’ve got four young kids.
“He said the schools are fine, let’s carry on, and what he said about sports was, ‘We’ll make a decision on it later.’
“You just thought, ‘He’s dodged it, he’s left the FA and Premier League to make the decision.’”
BIG CLUB BIAS
Rooney then slated football’s governing bodies for their lack of decisiveness, saying it “didn’t surprise me” when they failed to take action.
Prior to the Spaniard’s diagnosis, a host of clubs – including Leicester – had sent players and staff home to self-isolate after certain team members showed symptoms of the killer bug.
And Rooney reckons the Premier League only stood up and took notice because the latest update affected a “big club”.
Roo wrote: “It felt baffling that with the three Leicester players having symptoms we were still planning to go ahead with games.
“Then on Thursday night it came out that Arteta had the virus and all of a sudden the Premier League announced an emergency meeting the next morning.
“What was the difference? Is it that Arteta was a bigger name?
“It felt typical of the way things are done in football. That Leicester aren’t a big enough team to cause any chaos, it’s fine, we carry on.
“Then as soon as one of the bigger clubs — Arsenal — are affected, we finally make a decision.
“It felt like we were trying to limp along, keep football going, instead of getting everyone prepared for what’s going to come.
“When I drove into training on Friday morning with my gear in the back, ready to travel to London, I was thinking, ‘I don’t want to travel, I don’t want to play, I don’t want to put my family at risk or for fans to be at risk.’”
Rooney went on to say that football did “eventually” make the right decision, but feels footballers were treated abysmally throughout the build-up to the suspension of all pro matches.
He continued: “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.
“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?’
“At least now there is three weeks without games, after the FA suspended League football until April 3, for the sport and the government to come together and assess everything properly.”
Rooney called the decision to suspend football the correct decision, saying life and family is far more important than football – echoing Jurgen Klopp’s recent sentiment.
Football has to come second. It’s a sport. It’s just a sport. If people’s lives are at risk, that has to come first.
Rooney on football vs coronavirus
But even then, he couldn’t help question the delay. The Derby ace said: “Thankfully football made the right call in the end. We had to put the season on hold.
“Football’s a game we all love, we all watch, we all play but when something like coronavirus happens — when it’s a world crisis — you have to make decisions.
“Some people won’t be happy but I just think, in this case, football has to come second. It’s a sport. It’s just a sport.
“If people’s lives are at risk, that has to come first — regardless of whether you’re going to win the league title, whether you’re trying to get into Europe or whether you’re going to get relegated or promoted.
“But 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.
“I hope we learn from it because the next decision is just as big: when do we start playing again?
“For me, that can only happen once, for players, fans and everyone else, it is absolutely safe. The powers have to get that one right.
“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. That’s one player from thousands of players but I bet plenty of us feel the same.”
Rooney had another go at Johnson for his reaction – or lack thereof – to Cheltenham, with thousands of racing fans flocking to the famous track for a week or huge events.
He roared: “Johnson said: ‘It’s going to get worse, people will die.’ OK, so why not try to get ahead of it? Why wait to be in the position Italy sadly finds itself in?
“I couldn’t believe that the Cheltenham Festival just carried on, for instance: crowds of people crammed in with each other yet they let it go ahead.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if Boris had a horse running…”