Understandably, the coronavirus pandemic has us all on edge. We are very quick to criticise and jump to conclusions against those we feel are not reacting to the outbreak as they should, fuelled by an equally outraged media.
Premier League footballers were among those to be rashly condemned for not taking wage cuts like their counterparts elsewhere in Europe, and Health Secretary Matt Hancock joined the crowds to take a swing at players to “play their part.” However, I believe we as a nation have once again jumped the gun and criticised these individuals far too quickly.
Like all those with legal contracts, footballers have an entitlement to the money they are due to be paid. Working to get to the top of the professional game takes years of hard graft, so why should they be denied their rightful reward for all of their work? They earn disproportionately more than regular workers because they are better than everyone else in an industry that generates disproportionately more profit than most others.
I accept that for many, this is unsatisfactory, for you may quite rightly feel that in circumstances such as these, those individuals who can afford to contribute to causes like the NHS should.
However, there are a multitude of complications involved with clubs reaching such an agreement with their players. Any such decision on wage cuts and deferrals must be collective for obvious reasons, so many of those individuals being persecuted in the media may want to actively contribute, but are being held up in doing so by their colleagues. In reply to the most likely response to this, it would hardly promote squad unity if these individuals were to be publicly outed and would create a toxic environment in the changing room that clubs would understandably be keen to avoid.
Lastly, and usually most accepted as a reason by those who disagree with me, is the economic factor. It has been estimated that if Premier League clubs reduce their salaries by £570 million, the government would lose more than £200 million in tax. This is not what the NHS needs in a time of crisis, where its precious resources are being stretched thinner than ever before, certainly in my memory.
Instead, players should be asked to make voluntary contributions to charities, hospitals, or other healthcare institutions. Some have already done so, by signing up to the ‘Players Together’ charity fund, spearheaded by Liverpool captain, Jordan Henderson. They should receive our appreciation for doing this.
Captain Tom Moore has captured the nation’s hearts, raising approximately £30 million by walking 100 lengths of his garden. I think it is sad that in today’s society, footballers who raise equally as useful sums of money will receive only an ‘and so they should’ in response. I am in no way comparing the two acts of kindness, but the disparity in public appreciation for the causes is palpable.
Personally, I do believe that footballers have a moral obligation to help however they can during this global crisis. Nonetheless, it is also important that we thank those that choose, for it is their choice, to help.
We as a society spend a lot of our time criticising every little thing that footballers do. It is about time we use this spotlight to appreciate them with just as much enthusiasm as we criticise them.