By Andrew Warshaw
March 18 – The toll on players once football is allowed to resume will be greater than ever while many risk losing their jobs altogether during the Covid-19 pandemic.
That is the stark warning issued by international players’ union general secretary Jonas Baer-Hoffmann who says the industry could “turn ugly quickly” as it struggles to come to terms with the impact of the virus.
“Whenever we start again we will do so with an incredible tight schedule, that’s a given,” Hoffmann told reporters during a conference call.
“We all know about the problem we already have with regard to player health under the current match calendar. (Whenever we resume) It will put enormous stress on the players.”
“There will have to be proper planning in terms of how we get football back on the ground. Players will not just be able to walk out of their apartments and back on the pitch. All of this will put enormous strain on them and it will have to be managed.”
Hoffmann admits there are no easy answers. “We will have to strike the right balance between what the players physically can handle and keeping football going economically. There will be a lot of pressure. There will definitely have to be a break between the two seasons.”
With professional and most grassroots football wiped off the map, Hoffmann says if nothing is done to give financial assistance to clubs, many players could lose their jobs at the lower end of the market.
“There is no doubt that the health of everybody is the primary concern but the concerns of players are shifting very quickly towards their livelihoods,” said Hoffmann.
“For the vast majority, a loss of income for two or three months is as threatening as for any other worker. The consequences for our industry will potentially turn ugly very quickly, so any co-ordinated action is very, very important.”
“For the first time in decades, we’re facing a real, consistent economic crisis in the industry. If we don’t respond very quickly to stabilise the cash flow we could see mass layoffs of players and staff members within weeks.”
“We are getting the first messages of lay-offs of players, withholding of wages and clubs being threatened.”
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