Jobi McAnuff played in the Premier League for Reading and helped Leyton Orient win promotion back into the EFL last season
Leyton Orient player-coach Jobi McAnuff is unsure whether footballers’ safety can be guaranteed if the sport resumes.
The Premier League is discussing plans to restart the season, which was halted in March because of coronavirus.
Former Jamaica midfielder McAnuff is concerned about the “disproportionate” number of deaths among people from ethnic minority backgrounds in the UK.
“I just don’t feel that safety can be guaranteed in the current climate that we’re in,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live.
The Office of National Statistics says black men and women are nearly twice as likely to die with coronavirus than white people in England and Wales, while people of South Asian origin are also at significantly higher risk.
“I really hope that people at the Premier League and football clubs, and players themselves, are really taking note of the situation because it is something that is affecting that group in particular,” added McAnuff, who has played more than 700 games for clubs in the top five divisions of English football.
While McAnuff is unsure whether he will play again this season – Orient are 17th in League Two – the 38-year-old believes some top-flight players will share his concerns as the Premier League examines how to resume.
“Clearly football’s being in the focus because of Project Restart and all of that talk,” added McAnuff.
“Of course the players are going to be at risk, but if they are in households where they have got grandparents or aunties and uncles, their parents, brothers and sisters, who may be more susceptible to critical illness or even high risk of death, then clearly that is going to be a factor in these guys’ decisions.
“You might be walking around symptom-free as a young, fit, healthy footballer and potentially you could pass it on to someone who’s a lot more vulnerable than you, and it’s a horrible situation to put the players in, that’s for sure.”
View more on