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Wayne Rooney
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Rooney pens op-ed on pay cut controversy, calls it a ‘disgrace’

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There a few more resonant voices amongst active English players than Derby County captain Wayne Rooney.

A legend from his time with England and Manchester United, the Everton product carries a weight to which most players can only aspire.

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Now the 34-year-old is lending his voice to the current controversy regarding players taking pay cuts during the coronavirus pandemic, with the government even making statements regarding the perceived necessity of sacrifice.

The Professional Footballers Association has weighed in a few times. Now, Rooney wrote a column that appeared in The Times (subscription required) on Sunday, in which he made several points on the issue.

“The first thing to say is that if Derby County needed me to take a pay cut to save the club I would understand and look to support them in whatever way I could. And if the government approached me to help support nurses financially or buy ventilators I’d be proud to do so — as long as I knew where the money was going.”

But Rooney says the story is more than simply foregoing wages in order to keep non-playing staff on the books or from going on furlough.

He says the government has made the players “easy targets” and asks why this process needs to play out in the public eye, saying that the players have been in the process of figuring out the best way to contribute via wages.

Rooney also says that Health Secretary Matt Hancock is trying to use Premier League players as a distraction to the English government’s actions during the pandemic. From Sky Sports:

“I’m in a position where I could give something up. Not every footballer is in the same position. Yet suddenly the whole profession has been put on the spot with a demand for 30 per cent pay cuts across the board. Why are footballers suddenly the scapegoats?

“How the past few days have played out is a disgrace. He (Hancock) was supposed to be giving the nation the latest on the biggest crisis we’ve faced in our lifetimes. Why was the pay of footballers even in his head? Was he desperate to divert attention from his government’s handling of this pandemic?”

Report: England manager Gareth Southgate agrees to 30 percent pay cut

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England manager Gareth Southgate has agreed to a 30 percent pay cut amid the coronavirus pandemic, our partners at Sky Sports reported on Saturday.

[ MORE: What PL clubs are doing to help during coronavirus ] 

Southgate’s move, which is reportedly expected to be confirmed by the Football Association (FA) next week, comes hours after the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) released a statement on behalf of the Premier League players responding to proposed pay cuts.

A FA spokesperson told Sky Sports the following: “The financial implications of the coronavirus are not yet known however, as a not-for-profit organization, we want to ensure that we take the appropriate course of action to support the wider organization and our employees.

“We will make a further announcement on our next steps in due course.”

On Friday, Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe – and a handful of technical staff personnel – became the first Premier League manager to take a voluntary pay cut. Howe’s “significant, voluntary” pay cuts were done in light of the club furloughing non-playing employees throughout the organization, joining Tottenham, Norwich, Newcastle and Liverpool.

PFA Team of the Year announced for 2016-17 season

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The PFA Premier League Team of the Year has been announced for the 2016-17 season.

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Four players each from Chelsea and Tottenham made the XI, with one player from Liverpool, Everton and Manchester United making up the side.

United’s David De Gea is in goal, with Chelsea defenders David Luiz and Gary Cahill the two center backs and Tottenham’s full backs Danny Rose and Kyle Walker completing the defense.

In midfield Chelsea’s N'Golo Kante and Tottenham’s Dele Alli are in the middle with Liverpool’s top scorer Sadio Mane and Chelsea star Eden Hazard out wide. Up top are the two leading goalscorers in the PL with Everton’s Romelu Lukaku joined by Tottenham’s Harry Kane.

The team is made up by votes from all of the players in the Premier League, as each player selects their best XI in a 4-4-2 formation.

Below is the PFA Team of the Year in full.


PFA demands players “should not continue after loss of consciousness” as Hugo Lloris incident hits home

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The Professional Footballers’ Association of the UK has called for new rules put in place to stop any player carrying on after being knocked unconscious.

Here, here.

On Sunday the soccer world reacted vehemently after witnessing the disturbing scenes of Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper Hugo Lloris being knocked out following a head injury but then being allowed to play on.

Lloris clearly didn’t know what was going on, as you can see from the video above, but the French ‘keeper demanded to stay on the pitch and Spurs’ medical staff let him.

Now PFA deputy chief executive John Bramhall has called for an end to this madness, and released a statement in which he believes  soccer needs to remove the decision making process when trying to assess whether a player who has lost consciousness is fit to continue a game.

“When treating a player on pitch, it can be very difficult to determine the severity of a head injury,” Bramhall said. “It is important to take the pressure off the players, club medical staff, and the manager – removing the need for them to make a very difficult decision. If anyone suffers a severe trauma to the head and loses consciousness, then they should be required to leave the field of play automatically.”

(MORE: Spurs leaving Lloris in at Goodison proves English soccer miles behind on head injuries – video)

The incident involving Lloris on Sunday was made even worse given the fact the the player he collided with Romelu Lukaku, who had also been knocked unconscious earlier this season when scoring for Everton vs. West Ham. The Belgian striker carried on, but admitted afterwards that he had no clue what had happened when he scored. And another incident involving Stoke City’s Robert Huth has acted to further show how much of a massive problem this is in Englan’s top-flight.

Included in the statement are words from the World players’ union FIFPro who labelled the decision ‘unacceptable’ as their Medical Advisor Vincent Gouttebarge said: “The health and safety of the players should be the number one priority and should prevail against any other matters.”

(MORE: Romelu Lukaku ‘can’t remember’ scoring after head injury – video)

FIFA’s guidelines also say a player should be automatically removed if there’s any doubt whatsoever about concussions. PFA spokesman Bramhall also added that his organization will try and get a change of ruling into place as soon as possible.

“The PFA will continue to work with the stakeholders within the game, to evaluate what guidelines are currently in place and to see if and how they need to be improved to provide better protection for all those involved in the game.”

In the U.S. head injuries in all sports, and particularly in soccer are taken very seriously. And having spent plenty of time playing and watching the game in both countries over the years, I’ve seen teammates in the USA succumb and retire from head injuries. Truth is, the same thing should have probably happened in English soccer circles a bunch of time… but worryingly it doesn’t. The amount of times you will hear something like, “he just got a whack on the head,” or “hopefully that will knock a bit of sense into him,” after English society in general witnesses a head injury is appalling.

The Premier League needs to bring this new guideline of automatic removal in place fast, if they do, then hopefully the rest of society will accept just how serious concussions in soccer are. Right now, as proved by the Lloris and Lukaku incidents this season, that’s not the case.