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.
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?”