Lianne Sanderson has called the WSL players who travelled to Dubai during the winter break as “irresponsible” following the postponement of two games this weekend due to coronavirus.
Arsenal’s away trip to Aston Villa, alongside Manchester City’s home clash with West Ham, were both postponed following positive cases at both clubs.
The postponements were announced after it was reported a number of players visited Dubai on a “business trip” in recent days, bringing criticism from the former England international.
“I always want to get away, don’t we all? But at the moment you have to take a little bit of responsibility and think – is this the right time to get away? Probably not,” Sanderson exclusively told Sky Sports News.
“It’s not just about you – it’s about your team-mates, the staff and people at the training ground.
“I don’t think the games should have been cancelled – they should have gone ahead because due to people being irresponsible and travelling those games have now been cancelled.
“If I was a West Ham or Aston Villa player I would definitely be disappointed because they’ve been responsible enough to listen to what they are being told.”
‘Coin toss shows the lack of support for the Women’s game’
Sanderson has also criticised the suggestion that Women’s FA Cup ties could be decided by a coin toss after the lockdown meant the competition was suspended.
Meetings have been held to discuss ways to progress with the tournament with a coin toss one of a number of options being considered for the second and third rounds.
On the proposal, Sanderson said: “I’m completely perplexed that something like that could be done. It goes to show you where the women’s game still needs to be.
“During the last lockdown, the women’s game and the duty of care wasn’t even considered.
“While the WSL is in the fortunate position of being fully professional, I feel for the players below that level who are amateur.
“Those players often get forgotten about because the WSL often takes priority and they’ve maybe been in a position where they have had to give up their jobs.
“Fundamentally, we have to think about these players and unfortunately the women’s game still needs to be taken into consideration.”
‘Football needs a break to protect players’
With coronavirus cases not just causing postponements in the women’s game but the men’s as well, Sanderson also believes a circuit break is inevitable for the welfare of players.
Aston Villa’s FA Cup third round game against Liverpool was given the go ahead despite a significant Covid-19 outbreak at Villa, but further games are in jeopardy due to rising cases.
“The duty of care to players is the most fundamental thing to think about and, at the moment, we are seeing a massive rise in the number of cases,” Sanderson said.
“Ultimately it comes down to whether it is safe to play and whether it is safe to go to the training ground as we are seeing more and more outbreaks.
“Personally I can’t see any other option but to take a break at this moment in time.”
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