Chelsea Women’s boss Emma Hayes says footballers are in an ‘impossible situation’ during the coronavirus pandemic and has urged understanding regarding recent player protocol breaches.
The Blues’ 5-0 win at Reading was the only WSL match that took place last weekend after the rest fell victim to COVID-19.
It comes after a group of Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United players travelled to Dubai during the winter break for a business trip – prompting condemnation from many across the league.
On Thursday the FA, Premier League, EFL and WSL released a joint statement in which they expressed confidence their tightened coronavirus protocols would enable them to finish the season, while stressing that “safety is a collective effort”.
Hayes acknowledged there had been a “really good league call with all the clubs about the importance of our responsibilities, to fulfil fixtures” and that hopefully with co-operation the WSL would be completed.
However, when asked if, in light of the recent criticism women’s football had faced, it was even more important now to set an example, Hayes said: “I don’t think we should focus on it being women’s football.
“The decisions we make – we do have to be even more mindful that it impacts not just on your family, your friends, but your team, and then if not your team, the opposition, and if not the opposition, then the league.
“We have a responsibility – but we are also human beings. And I think we need to recognise that large chunks of the women’s game have done the right things at the right times.”
Hayes was also asked if sport had an important role in terms of providing some light in difficult times, and she said: “So much – that’s why I think ‘don’t slaughter us’ too. Because I think sometimes we’re in an almost impossible situation.
“We put our lives at risk to come to work, to expose ourselves in team environments. And while all the safety precautions are there, we know all of us have players and staff…