Sport comes together as unions over the globe hold talks on return

Sport comes together as 50 players’ unions across the globe – from football to the NBA – get set for talks over how to make a safe return to action during the coronavirus pandemic

  • Sporting seasons across the globe are on hold due to the coronavirus outbreak
  • Football, cricket and rugby will be involved in talks, as will the NBA and NFL
  • The 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo and Euro 2020 have been delayed for a year 
  • Learn more about how to help people impacted by COVID

Leading figures from the world’s major sports will hold talks on Tuesday over whether it is possible to make a safe return to action during the coronavirus pandemic.

Representatives from FIFPro, the world footballers’ union, are among those to participate in a conference call organised by the World Players Association, which supports about 85,000 professional athletes in 60 countries.

FICA, who represent international cricketers, and the International Rugby Players will also be involved in the discussions, as will their counterparts from the NBA, NFL, Major League Baseball and Australian Rules Football. 

The Premier League season is currently in limbo amid ongoing talks over a potential return

Cricket stars like Joe Root (left) and Ben Stokes would usually be playing county cricket now

In total, 50 players’ unions will contribute, and they are expected to push for representation on key coronavirus decision-making bodies including the World Health Organisation and the International Olympic Committee.

The delegates will also be joined by independent health experts, including epidemiologists, as they seek clear advice on ensuring sportsmen and women will be safe when they are required to return to action.

Those who run the major competitions across the world are desperate to get the show back on the road, with the Premier League one of many to look at staging matches behind closed doors to ensure the 2019-20 season can be completed.

But there are increasing concerns about the logistics of resuming sport, and Tuesday’s meeting will seek to ensure that athletes have access to independent health advice, beyond what is already provided by governments and governing bodies.

Representatives for the NBA will also be involved in the talks during the meeting on Tuesday

The 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo have been postponed by a year due to coronavirus

World Players Association chief executive Brendan Schwab told Sportsmail: ‘Given athlete health and safety is central to any discussions about ‘return to play’, it is essential we have access to our own medical and public health experts. 

We are having to balance acute economic and health considerations in a tight time frame with limited information.’

Meanwhile, the number of professional footballers reporting symptoms of depression has doubled since the coronavirus suspension, according to a survey by FIFPro.

The world footballers’ union polled 1,602 professional players – 1,134 men and 468 women – between March 22 and April 14 and noted a significant rise in problems with mental health.

‘These figures show there has been a sharp increase in players suffering from anxiety and depression symptoms since the coronavirus shut down professional football, and I fear that this is also the case for the whole of society facing an unprecedented emergency because of Covid-19,’ FIFPRO chief medical officer Dr Vincent Gouttebarge said.

‘In football, suddenly young men and women athletes are having to cope with social isolation, a suspension of their working lives and doubts about their future.

‘Some may not be well equipped to confront these changes and we encourage them to seek help from a person they trust or a mental health professional.’

Players from England and Scotland were among those in 16 countries to be contacted for the survey.

 

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