American Football

‘I hope your son gets coronavirus’: Deeney reveals abuse after speaking out on Premier League restart

Deeney told CNN Sport that people online have been wishing ill on his five-month-old baby, who was born prematurely and has breathing difficulties, while people on the street have told him to go "back to work.""I saw some comments in regards to my son, people saying: 'I hope your son gets corona[virus],'" Deeney told CNN Sport. "That's the hard part for me. If you respond to that, people then go: 'Ah, we've got him' and they keep doing it."Clubs voted unanimously on Wednesday to resume contact training, stage two of the league's 'Return to Training protocol,' though the Premier League later announced that four players and staff from three clubs tested positive for Covid-19. Deeney has been one of several high-profile players to publicly question a possible resumption and says he has privately received support for his views. However, he believes the backlash he and other outspoken players have received means other footballers maybe fearful of talking about their concerns."In a time where it's all about mental health and everyone says: 'Speak up, speak out, please speak,' Danny Rose spoke out … and I spoke out and we just get absolutely hammered and battered for it," adds Deeney, referring to the England defender's comments on 'Project Restart.'"So people see that and go: 'Woah' and it's not just us that gets it, the missus gets direct messages and you'll be walking down the street and people will be like: 'Oh, I'm at work, you go back to work.'"READ: Here's where sports league stand on reopeningREAD: La Liga stars get go ahead to resume play early next month

Messages of support

With Watford siting precariously near the bottom of the Premier League, Deeney says much of the criticism he received was accusations of wanting the season to be canceled so his club could avoid relegation.However, once players from teams at the top of the league — including Manchester City forward Sergio Aguero and Chelsea's N'Golo Kante — began voicing their concerns, Deeney felt public opinion began to change."Personally, I just think this is showing me that the players have so much power if they actually all came together," he says. "That's what this is showing me. I've had a lot of messages of support from people that I wouldn't normally — well, that I didn't even know had my number for a start. "But certainly from players from bigger clubs and that shows me that I must be doing something right because I'm just a little old Troy from Watford and everyone seems to listen to what I say."Since he first spoke out, much of the narrative has been framed as 'Deeney vs. the Premier League' but the striker speaks highly of how the organization has tried to allay his fears.Deeney says he has now had "four or five" meetings with the Premier League — some productive, others "heated.""I just think my concerns were purely for family reasons," explains Deeney, referring to his young son. "I needed more questions answered with a bit more authority and, at the start, they couldn't really do that, but not for any reason or want [of trying], it was just because they didn't have the information."I think everyone can appreciate everything that the Premier League is trying to do as well. I don't think it's a pure neglect of: 'We're going back to work and get on board or [else],' it's nothing like that. They have very good lines of communication."These meetings don't stay too safe — there's some frustrating conversations. When somebody said I'm at the same risk of getting coronavirus by playing football or going to the supermarket, I said: 'I've never had to jump for a header while picking up a cucumber.'"But then there's also been some really good ones as well."Deeney says he has also been speaking to Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, the UK government's Deputy Chief Medical Officer, who has been providing more information on the statistics which show people from minority backgrounds are disproportionately affected by Covid-19."He's been doing very, very good research and there is a lot of good will on his part to tell me, ultimately, that I'm going to be looked after as best as they can and, ultimately, there is going to be some form of risk for all of us going back to work," Deeney says. "Lockdown [ending] and the social distancing measures coming down mean people will still always have risk."

Premier League integrity 'already gone'

Deeney's Watford is the only team to have beaten Liverpool in the Premier League this season, winning 3-0 at the end of February to end what many thought would be just the second undefeated season after Arsenal's 'Invincibles.'Before the coronavirus pandemic brought the season to a halt, Liverpool boasted an insurmountable 25-lead at the top of the table and was just two wins away from securing a first top-flight title for 30 years.Watford stunned Liverpool to inflict the Reds' first defeat of the Premier League season.Regardless of what happens to the remainder of this campaign, Deeney believes Jurgen Klopp's side should be crowned champion but also sympathizes with how the circumstances of any potential title win are likely to be remembered."I believe that when it comes to the integrity of this season anyway, it's already gone," Deeney says. "I feel sorry for Liverpool because no matter how it plays out, they deserve to win the league. They deserve to get the trophy. "But no matter how it plays out, even if we play all the games, it's still going to be the year spoiled by the pandemic. It's not going to be that year that Liverpool won the league being the best team and, you know, it's 30 years they haven't won for. "So I do feel sorry for Liverpool and their players and Jordan [Henderson], but in terms of integrity, there's no way you could say that this is a viable competition," added Deeney, referring to the Liverpool captain."It's like running a marathon, 20 odd miles, stopping for Read More – Source