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?”
Well-traveled Serbian striker Aleksandar Prijovic isn’t going anywhere for three months, regardless of when coronavirus dangers subside in the eyes of authorities.
The 29-year-old was arrested along with 19 others for violating Serbia’s lockdown policy by attending a bar between the hours of 5 p.m. and 5 a.m.
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Now the Swiss-born, 13-times capped Serbian international has been sentenced to three months of home detention.
Fellow Serbian striker Luka Jovic of Real Madrid was investigated for a similar offense earlier this month.
Prijovic was part of the 2018 World Cup team for coach Mladen Krstajić and has 13 caps and two goals for Serbia. He currently plays for Saudi side Al-Ittihad.
He’s been a part of 12 clubs in his career including English sides Northampton Town, Derby County, and Yeovil Town. Prijovic has double-digit goal seasons for Turkish side Boluspor (2014/15) and Greek powers PAOK (2017/18).
A punishment like this may seem harsh to some, but the message should be pretty clear in Serbia: National team member or not, following the laws is critical.
More on coronavirus pandemic in soccer:
American billionaire Michael Dell, founder and CEO of Dell Technologies, is in advanced talks with Derby County.
Dell, 55, is said to have a net worth of $31.2 billion and is discussing investment in the English Championship club with owner Mel Morris. Derby were previously owned by a combination of Morris and an American investment group
Per the report from The Telegraph the Texas businessman is keen to invest and Derby’s current owner Morris has been ‘seeking additional funding for over two years and was previously in talks with Henry Gabay, a London-based businessman, but a deal has stalled due to a number of factors including the sacking of former club captain Richard Keogh and the English Football League charge.’
An English Football League investigation is currently looking into the deal which allowed Derby’s current owner Morris to buy their Pride Park stadium as the EFL state Derby “recorded losses in excess of the permitted amounts provided for in EFL regulations for the three-year period ending 30 June 2018.”
The Rams have come close to promotion back to the Premier League on many occasions over the last decade but have come up short in the playoffs time and time again as they lost in the final to Aston Villa last season under Frank Lampard‘s tutelage.
With legendary Dutch midfield Phillip Cocu currently their manager they sit six points off the playoffs with nine games of the season to go and since Wayne Rooney‘s arrival in January they’ve surged up the table.
Dell will obviously invest in Derby with possible Premier League promotion in mind as his investment would be a lot lower initially and if Derby were able to sneak into the playoffs this season and seal promotion, a cash windfall of over $190 million would arrive.
Derby County captain Wayne Rooney says players will be happy to play it extra safe when it comes to the coronavirus’ effect on their seasons.
Rooney says there’s a solution for everything, and that the Premier League season could find resolution in the calendar thanks to the winter World Cup scheduled for 2022.
[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]
While of course theoretical and requiring developments in the treatment and control of the virus, Rooney says European seasons could finish by September
“The next World Cup is in November and December 2022, so you could actually use this situation as an opportunity and say we’re going to finish the 2019-20 season later this year, then prepare for 2022 by having the next two seasons starting in winter.”
There’s a lot of common sense to Rooney’s proposal on the surface level, though obviously there are myriad contractual and legal avenues that may make it improbable.
The big question would be what to do after that 2022 World Cup, as waiting from January to August to start a new season would be a bit wild. Maybe each successive season would change by one month until it reached the traditional start date?
And, honestly, it’s intriguing to wonder if European football adopting a “warmer weather” schedule and international football hosting its events in the Fall would improve an already terrific thing.
Rooney was also critical of the delays in putting Football League matches on hold, saying players were watching other sports close down and unable to focus on their personal coronavirus concerns.
He claimed it “almost” felt like footballers were being treated “like guinea pigs.”
More coronavirus connections to soccer:
Former USMNT and MLS midfielder Benny Feilhaber has retired at the age of 35.
Feilhaber posted a statement across his social media accounts on Wednesday as he brings an end to his 15-year professional career. Feilhaber played 44 times for the U.S. men’s national team, scoring twice, and was part of the 2009 Confederations Cup and 2010 World Cup squads.
After playing for UCLA the central midfielder began his pro career with Hamburg in Germany before moving to play for Derby County in the Premier League and Aarhus in Denmark, then heading back to MLS to play for the New England Revolution, Sporting Kansas City, LAFC the Colorado Rapids and then Kansas City again last season.
“It has been an incredible journey and one I leave with no regrets,” Feilhaber said. “I love this sport and I will always be around it. I hope I can give the sport back what it gave me and also find opportunities for others as my coaches did for me throughout my playing career.”
USMNT fans will remember Feilhaber best for the game-winner he scored in the 2007 Gold Cup final against Mexico and the part he played in their run to the 2009 Confederations Cup final, as he helped set up Clint Dempsey‘s goal in their upset win over Spain in the USA’s semifinal win.
Feilhaber has never been afraid to speak his mind and bring humor to the party and his criticism of former USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann for not calling up plenty of MLS players he felt were worthy of being in the U.S. squad sums up his fighting spirit and standing up for what he believes in.