Paris (AFP)

The boss of the FIFPro world players' union, Jonas Baer-Hoffmann, gave his support on Wednesday to footballers refusing to resume training for fear of the coronavirus, warning that it would be "inhuman and unacceptable" that they be punished for their decision .

Jonas Baer-Hoffmann reacted after the refusal of Troy Deeney, Watford player in the Premier League, to resume training for fear of endangering the health of his young child, who has breathing difficulties.

Deeney is "a player who has very legitimate concerns and wants to protect his family," said the boss of FIFPro during a conference call with the press on Wednesday. "If these players are pressured or face disciplinary action, we would find this unacceptable," said Baer-Hoffman.

"The idea that someone could be punished during a pandemic for trying to protect the health of their family is inhuman and unacceptable," he insisted as the club has yet to show any signs of a possible sanction.

Watford is among the Premier League clubs affected by six positive coronavirus cases out of a total of 748 tests performed on Sunday and Monday.

Other players have expressed concern about resuming training, even in small groups. English defender Danny Rose, on loan to Newcastle United, even estimated that the players were treated like "laboratory rats".

Baer-Hoffmann admitted that many players around the world wanted to resume despite the potential risks but stressed that FIFPro had recommended them to three to four weeks of training before restarting matches due to the risk of injury.

In England, the Premier League has been suspended since March 13 and plans to resume on June 12. Some clubs conducted training in small groups on Wednesday.

The United Kingdom is the second country in the world most bereaved by the new coronavirus (more than 41,000 dead) and began only a slight deconfinement last Wednesday.

© 2020 AFP