England veteran Wayne Rooney’s comments regarding the handling of the current health crisis by the authorities make Celtic’s postponement look even worse.
The Premier League and EFL announced on Friday that all football in England would come to a halt. That was, almost immediately, reacted to by a statement from the SPFL and SFA saying that Scottish football would do the exact same.
The decisions were made after fatalities and growing cases in the current pandemic rose on both Thursday and Friday. Yet, incredibly, the decisions from all organisations came after the likes of Holland, France, Spain, and the USA all shut down their own professional leagues.
Rooney wasn’t happy with how the situation had been handled. Speaking in the Times today, the Derby County man said the following:
“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.”
Scottish football became the last to react
Rooney’s comments are focused primarily on England. However, it’s clear that the SFA/SPFL only reacted the way they did because England did the same.
Granted, they likely followed the Scottish government’s advice initially. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon claimed on Thursday that mass gatherings would be banned from Monday onwards (BBC). However, why the SFA/SPFL needs to look at England first and foremost is questionable.
Surely, once the First Minister put a ban on gatherings, Scottish football should’ve immediately been put into a state of suspension. It makes the decision to allow the Rangers vs Celtic game to go ahead even worse than anything the English authorities came up with.
After all, the SFA announced that all games would still go ahead immediately after Sturgeon’s announcement. They had already made their minds up that, despite the fact the epidemic was growing and many other leagues in Scotland had been shut down, the game here was still going to go ahead.
Rooney’s comments show the real anger that certain players will have involving the crisis. The last thing many of them would’ve liked would’ve been to play over the weekend and risk themselves getting infected.
At the very least, the English FA made a more swift decision than our own authorities managed. Once again, the SFA/SPFL were the last to react. But who’s surprised?